I’ve had a very eventful year. First, I died. And for any of us, that’s pretty dang eventful.
I remember being at Dr. Pokey and a tearful mama was whispering in my ear (no, I’m not telling you what was said – that’s private, confidential, information), and next I know I went to sleep. Then, I woke up on a train seat, filled with other dogs in the train car, and the train was slowing down. The conductor came through, said “NEXT STOP, THE RAINBOW BRIDGE TRANSIT STATION. ALL MUST DEPART!”
Being a Scottie, I don’t usually follow orders, but I had a feeling this was an order I better obey. So I got off the train as directed – boy, what a busy place it was as I got off the train. Dogs walking, cats strolling, birds flying, fish in their bowls, all scurrying to and fro.
As i left the platform and entered the Grand Arrival Hall, I saw my Golden Retriever sister, Lady. And a Scottish Terrier that I recognized from family pictures, her name is Aberdeen. Boy was I happy to see Lady! Aberdeen – well, let’s just say the reports I received from my hoomans about how cantankerous, aloof, and moody she can be were well-founded.
They told me what I already knew – that I am at the Rainbow Bridge now. Got me all settled in- I shared a room with Lady and Aberdeen is down the hall in our three bedroom condo.
So what about this Rainbow Bridge place, you want to know. Is it all a big meadow, with everyone playing, frolicking, and stopping occasionally and putting their nose in the air when a hooman comes in? Heck no! The poem the vet gives you when one of us dies, while not totally wrong, is misleading!
First off – let’s do the math here. Every animal that ever died is here (well, not quite – since the Pope opened up Heaven for us pets, many animals went with their hoomans to Heaven. That’s cut the population quite a bit, and means that now real estate prices have plummeted, as the housing supply is outstripping demand, but I digress). There are easily 5 billion animals here. Think of Shanghai on a Saturday night, and multiply that by 500, and that gives you the scope of this place.
So it’s a big sprawling metropolitan area. Neighborhoods, suburbs, expressways, subways, trolley cars. Right in the middle is the Rainbow Bridge Meadow…think Central Park, with the famous Rainbow Bridge at the edge of it. Do we go to the meadow a lot? Sure, maybe, some of us. But we don’t spend all day there. We got afterlifes to lead, y’know!
Which brings us to what I’ve been doing. Of course, I offered my services to the Scottie Army, Rainbow Bridge Brigade. And of course, the work I’ve done on Earth, especially in the Husky-Scottie War of 2009, preceded me here at the Bridge and impressed the Generals here in the Scottie Army. So I joined the Rainbow Bridge army, after some refresher training, at my old rank as Master Sergeant.
But that’s not all I do. No siree. I realized real quick that there are 5 billion animals here, 2 billion of them dogs, and not much of a supply of Boiled Eggs AND Ice Cream (preferably Vanilla). So I found an empty storefront in the heart of TerrierTown (got a good deal on it too, see my discussion above about the decline in real estate prices), and opened up my store this past Summer. “Angus Fala’s Boiled Egg and Ice Cream Parlor.”
It’s done quite well too. Got lots of specials and events at the Parlor. Tuesday is buy a dozen boiled eggs, get the thirteenth free (I call that an Angus Dozen). Thursday is Piano Night – Liberace plays in the main dining room with his 27 dogs accompanying him. Saturday night, the mayor of Terriertown, The Late Great Fala himself, FDR’s beloved Scottie, holds court in the backroom. Fala can really put away the vanilla ice cream with hamburger sprinkles, let me tell you what. And Sunday afternoons, I bring in an expert to lecture the patrons on various subjects. So far, the expert has been me every week. I can’t find anyone as knowledgeable or handsome or modest as myself.
Anyway, the Parlor is going great guns. We have it decorated for Christmas too – my Golden sister, Lady, has helped me with that, as you see in the painting above.
In fact, the business is doing so well, I just opened up a second location, in the Rainbow Bridge Meadow, that you might have noticed from the picture of the new Golden Retriever who joined my Rainbow Bridge family late last month. That would be Cary Grant 2.0. Cary Grant 1.0 stayed with us a while this past Fall, but he moved on and moved in with Goldens that he was actually related to, since he never officially was a dog owned by the staff back down there at Angus Manor. But Cary 2.0 is a member of the family – so he has moved in with Lady, and I took the third bedroom of the condo. (When Ainsley joins us, she will be crashing on the couch in the den)
Anyway, I will answer your questions now, gentle reader. What’s that you say? Have I seen your dog that is up here? Yes, I know your dog. I probably have served your dog AT the Parlor, or served WITH him in the Scottie army. And I go to the Rainbow Bridge Transit Station every afternoon to meet the new arrivals, and give them an advertising flyer for my Parlor, so I met your dog there too if he or she arrived in the past 8 months or so.
Next question? Does your dog miss you? Of course. Your dog misses you greatly, but we stay busy here, that’s for sure.
Any more questions? No? None? Great, that’s it, I got to get back to the parlor. I’m busing in some illegal immigra…excuse me, undocumented workers…to work the kitchen at the Parlor. That’s gonna drive down my labor costs, even though it means I’m gonna have to lay off a bunch of Pomeranians. Some of the business strategies we learned down on Earth are directly transferable here, doncha know.
Anyway, this is going to conclude my Holiday Newsletter. I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas.
Sincerely, and Hooyah!
Master Sergeant Angus Fala
Rainbow Bridge Scottie Brigade, and Sole Proprietor, Angus Fala’s Boiled Egg and Ice Cream Parlor with two great locations to serve you better, right in the heart of TerrierTown at the corner of Stoic and Stubborn, and our new location at the Rainbow Bridge Meadow
Hello friends – my last posting was “Meet Cary Grant” – unfortunately, this posting is going to discuss the passing of Cary Grant.
I wrote the “Meet Cary Grant” post on Sunday night, November 22nd. Just 12 hours later, our lives got turned upside down by unexpected news.
And if you will indulge me, I am writing this not only for you, my friends, but for those who stumble upon it researching Mitral Valve Stenosis and Mitral Valve Degeneration. After Cary was diagnosed with the disease on the 23rd, we tried researching the disease in puppies – and found few reports of owners dealing with the disease in puppies as young as Cary.
Perhaps if you have found this blog searching for Mitral Valve Stenosis in puppies, our experiences will be of some use to you.
First off – let me give you a glossary that you might find helpful:
Ainsley – that’s me, your narrator. I am a 5 year old Scottish Terrier, and yes, I write my own stuff. Ainsley Institute – my house. Where I do all my writing and research. Angus Fala Worldwide Enterprises – the name of the company my brother, a Scottish Terrier named Angus Fala, founded. He left us for the Rainbow Bridge, where he founded Angus Fala’s Boiled Egg and Ice Cream Parlor, on February 28, 2015 Mr. Bear – an intern at my company. He is an idiot. He has never said a word. I don’t see why Angus ever hired him in the first place, but he works cheap, so I have kept him on staff. Mama – That’s my hooman Mama Catman – That’s my hooman Daddy, who got the nickname because of his love of felines. Aunt Judy – not really my aunt, but my neighbor, and an owner of many Scotties through the years. Uncle Bob – Aunt Judy’s husband, who has famously said “I am asked why I have two Scotties – and I said it’s because Judy won’t let me have three!” Dr. Pokey – my name for all vets Cary Grant – a 9 week old Golden Retriever with champion blood lines, and from a very reputable breeder in Wisconsin. If you frequent the Golden Retriever Forums, you will see them mentioned in quite high regard.
I didn’t name the names of any Dr. Pokeys or clinics in the story. They all gave us exceptional care, but there was no point in mentioning them, I didn’t feel. I did mention the name of the Chicago Cardiologist we heard such great things about – Dr. Luthey. Unfortunately, Cary didn’t make it long enough to meet him. But I included it because everyone in the area seems to feel he is the vet for all things heart related. I am not naming the names of Cary’s breeder. They have been exceptionally kind and generous during this whole event. Even though Cary’s condition was, we are told, a birth defect, we are also told there is no way anyone could have known, and not a reflection on the quality of Cary’s breeder. In fact, Cary’s breeder have offered us another pup – and we have not hesitated to accept their offer. Cary was a great Golden – except for one flaw…his heart.
If you want more details than I have included, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Now begins my story of Cary’s last 6 days.
Let’s start on Saturday the 21st. We woke up, and Cary Grant seemed to be doing great. Getting into trouble, playing, just acting like a happy puppy…
It snowed Saturday – we got about 5 inches here. And Cary, like all Golden Retrievers, loved it – he snorkeled in it, he rolled in it, he played in it. He had a good old time.
Overnight Saturday night, Catman wondered if something was wrong. He noticed Cary was breathing a lot as he was sleeping, and breathing loud too. He even woke Mama up and asked her if it is possible Cary was having bloat (where the stomach turns if a dog, usually large breeds, exercises too vigorously after eating). However, Cary was taken outside in the middle of the night, and pooped just fine, so Catman and Mama just chalked it up to being an energetic puppy.
Anyway, Sunday came, and Cary seemed fine. Here is Cary Grant playing with Mr. Bear. Does Cary look like a sick puppy to you? He doesn’t to us.
But we did notice that Cary was sleeping a lot on Sunday. Catman even took a picture of Cary sleeping. But again, it’s been 14 years since we had a 9 week old puppy in the house, so we just thought it was tiredness from a growth spurt.
But, when Cary work up, he was the same ol’ Cary. We even went to see Aunt Judy and Uncle Bob, and had our Christmas picture taken for our Angus Fala Worldwide Enterprises 2015 Christmas Card.
Anyway, so we came home, and went to bed. Over the weekend, the hoomans started allowing Cary to sleep in their bed – and they are sure glad they did, because of what happened 5 days later. Catman took this picture of a Mama and her little boy, Monday morning.
So Monday morning started uneventful. Catman took Cary to McDonald’s, he wowed all the ladies working the drive thru,
and when Catman shoveled the drive way, Cary helped him by taking a plastic bottle out of the recycling in the garage, walking with it 40 feet, and depositing it at the end of the driveway.
But a few hours later, Mama noticed Cary was sleeping a lot, and sleeping loud. She could hear him wheezing from across the room.
Mama called our regular Dr. Pokey, and they told her to come in in 2 hours, and she did. The vet took one look at Cary and said “this is bad!.” She ran x-rays, wondering if something was wrong with his stomach, maybe he swallowed something, but it all showed clear. But she told Mama, and Catman, who came from work after Mama called him all upset, that Cary needed to go to a vet with an ICU and an oxygen crate right away.
So, they dropped me off at Aunt Judy’s, and rushed Cary to a specialty vet clinic in Aurora Illinois, a 90 minute drive. Cary was breathing really really hard on the way, and they were afraid he wouldn’t make it.
When they entered the vet practice – a big room with lots of people and animals waiting – the lady at the counter took one look at Cary and got on the loudspeaker and said “I need immediate assistance, all available personnel, to the front desk, STAT!” She actually used those words “STAT” – I thought they only said that on TV shows. For a second, Mama wondered who was in distress, but then 3 vet techs came rushing out and took Cary to the back. So they were calling for help for Cary – this is real serious.
Then a Dr. Pokey came out, the emergency Dr. Pokey, and told Catman and Mama it was definitely Cary’s heart (until then, we were thinking maybe it was pneumonia, or something bad, but something that could be overcome). She said it could be 2 things – one that could be managed, called PDA, and one that could not, called VSA. But from what she heard in her stethoscope, it sounds really bad, whatever it is. But they would stabilize him enough in his oxygen crate and then do an echo cardiogram.
About an hour or two later, a cardiologist Dr. Pokey came out, and said it wasn’t what they though, it was instead a condition called left side Mitral Valve Stenosis. She said she has never seen it in a pup as young as Cary, and that she didn’t know for sure, but his life would probably be measured in weeks or at best months. The way she explained it, Cary’s heart was malformed, and fluid was building up in Cary’s lungs. Cary was now in heart failure. His Mitral Valve Stenosis was very severe. My hoomans were devastated. It meant the hope of seeing Cary grow up a healthy happy Golden were now gone.
Dr. Pokey said my hoomans could visit Cary, but Cary would have to spend the night. When the hoomans visited Cary in the ICU, he was alert, and spry, and wanted to get out of his oxygen crate. He tried to fit his whole body through the hole in the cage. So sad.
So anyway, the next day, me and Catman went to go to pick up hooman sis as the airport. Since I have not included any pics of me, here I am waiting for hooman sis to say she has arrived while at the Ohare Oasis in Chicago. Consider my pic a brief Scottie interlude in my narrative…
So we pick up sis, then we get the call from Dr. Pokey that Cary can come home. We pick up Cary, and wow, what a greeting! He was thrilled to meet hooman sis for the first time – and she was pretty happy herself!
Cary was a new boy for the first 2 days home. Tons of energy. You could tell, which we didn’t realize earlier, that this was the way he was supposed to act. While he was at Dr. Pokey, they gave him intravenous Lasix. And at home, we were to give him Lasix, which gets rid of extra fluid, and also a pill called an ACE inhibitor. Also, we had a followup appointment with the cardiologist for the 3rd.
On the way home, Catman called our petsitter, who owns 6 Goldens, and has shown them for years. First thing out of her mouth was “Get Cary in to see Dr. Luthey.” Dr. Luthey was a cardiologist in Chicago that the breeder told us about also, when we talked to them about Cary’s condition. So Catman made an appointment with Dr. Luthey for his next availability, 8 days away, December 2nd.
Anyway, Cary was a Gold Menace his next two or three days. Playing, playing playing! And so smart….he started pawing at the door to go out and potty. I ask you, ladies and gentlemen of the internet, does this look like a terminally ill puppy to you????
So Cary had a good 3 days…Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Friday was good too. Me and Cary went to work at Angus Fala Worldwide Enterprises, saw all the hooman staff there. Played with them. Got treats from Ms. Mary, who works in the front office. Then, Catman was at his desk, and Cary was sleeping and he heard Cary breathing. Uh oh, he thought. Then he did what the vets told us to do…count the breaths. Over 50, it’s an emergency. So he counted. 100! Oh NO!
We went home immediately, Catman talked to Mama, and they had two choices. No Dr. Pokeys in the local area could handle this. They could go to Aurora to the clinic they went to Monday, or they could go to the specialty clinic in Chicago – the one that Dr. Luthey practices at. They have a 24 hour vet practice too. It’s further, about 2 hours away, but it seemed to the hoomans that Cary wasn’t as bad off as he was Monday. So they called the emergency vet in Chicago, and they said bring him in. Dr. Luthey is off onn the weekend, but he can be consulted if need be. And in any event, all the vets there are well versed in heart problems.
So Cary was bundled up, and I stayed home with Hooman sis, and Catman and Mama and Cary Grant took to the road. Catman, on the drive to Chicago, told Mama he thought at worse they would stabilize Cary and maybe Cary could hang on until the appointment on Wednesday to see Dr. Luthey. But maybe it would be better, that the vets in Aurora got it all wrong, and it isn’t the heart at all! Unlikely, but possible – right?
On the way, they realized they needed to stop and get something to eat, and Cary needed to potty. So they stopped in the burbs and Cary sniffed around. Turns out this is the last picture of the very photogenic Cary Grant.
So they arrive at the ER Vet in Chicago, and just like Aurora, no waiting for Cary, he got to bypass all the other people waiting, and the hoomans and Cary are whisked to an exam room. Vitals are taken, a Dr. Pokey arrives, and listens to Cary. She says without a doubt, it’s heart failure. The vets in Aurora got it right. But…But…BUT…she says this is so unusual in such a young pup, maybe a university, such as Purdue, or Ohio State, would want to take a crack at him. She says that may not be what you want to hear, but Catman said “oh no, that’s exactly what we would like to hear!” Then the vet says we need to take him back for some tests.
She comes back with Cary about a half hour later, and says “I don’t have good news.” He definitely has heart failure and Mitral Valve Stenosis,and she consulted an experienced cardiologist out in California, and he said he has only seen one puppy like Cary with Mitral Valve Stenosis – and it didn’t end well. There were no treatment alternatives. No miracles for Cary. Time to put him down.
Mama was beside herself in grief. Catman was trying his best to hold it together. Now let me digress and say that there is one thing for you, the reader, to understand – how can you be attached to a puppy you’ve only had 15 days? Easy – with a dog like Angus, who died at nearly 14 years, you mourn the lost past. With Cary, you are mourning the lost future. In many ways, with a pup, it is actually harder. We didn’t understand that until last week.
Dr. Pokey said hoomans could have some time with Cary. Cary was breathing hard…his lungs were filling up, but he still had the wag in his tail and wanted to play. So for an eventful too short 30 minutes or so, they tried to give Cary the best time of his life. Catman even took off his shoes and socks, so Cary could play with the forbidden sock. At that point, worrying about bad habits and choking can be thrown out the window.
But then it was time. Dr. Pokey came back in, and had the injections. During the first one, right before Cary slipped consciousness forever, Mama whispered in his ear…low enough so that no one could hear but Cary. “Goodnight Sweet Prince” – words from Shakespeare, and the last words Cary would hear on this Earth.
So that is the story of Cary Grant’s last 6 days. I will end my lengthy posting now with another picture, a beautiful picture, created by our friend Kate Wood, an artist from Alaska. Cary meeting our beloved Angus and his Scottie friends.