A Few Photos and Farewell

This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series Cancer & the Fight
Shakespeare balanced on hindquarters, paws way overhead


I mentioned in my last post that I wished I had more good-quality photos of Shakespeare. (Most of his work was in the days before there were decent cameras in phones.) So my mom sent me some more pictures she had, and I pulled a few more from my own collection.

He never did the least possible to get by — he loved training. Once I sent two trainers-in-training out with Shakespeare to train an arbitrary behavior I’d come up with to help them grasp a concept. Two and a half hours later, the two trainers were exhausted and done, but Shakespeare was still offering behaviors and ready to continue!

Shakespeare lying on a mat, attentive and alert

Alert and attentive, ready for the next big thing.

I love this pic, taken at the annual Doberman Club of Indiana picnic. This is what he looked like most of the time, attentive and ready. Note that he’s nine years old here — lean and not a speck of grey! He (and Laev, too) was often mistaken for much younger.

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My friend and brilliant photographer Amanda took some headshots for me and the dogs, for workshop publicity and things. Amanda had told me she was very afraid of dogs, and of Dobermans and Rottweilers in particular. But a day later, she was sitting on the couch with Shakespeare and my other dogs, and three days later she was shaping new behaviors in Shakespeare. Today Amanda even talks about clicker training with her photography customers.

One of the biggest and most amazing things I’ve heard from people this week is how Shakespeare shaped (ha!) their exposure to clicker training — that Shakespeare was instrumental to their training education or even to their adoption of new techniques at all. And that’s simply awesome. I can think of few more wonderful things to say about him. So thank you, all of you. That’s been huge.

He’s on his couch right now, napping after our wandering the property this morning. He’s having a good last day. I really appreciate all the kind words everyone has sent; it helps to know the difference he’s made for others as well.

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Shakespeare’s Last Week

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series Cancer & the Fight

119-1910_IMGToday a friend bid goodbye to her dog. And today I made the awful appointment to end Shakespeare’s days with us.

I have much to be grateful for. He was given as little as 3 weeks to live when diagnosed, and today marks the 7th week. He’s positively ancient for his breed; if I had his pedigree, he could have received a longevity award nearly 4 years ago, and aside from the cancer he’s physically in better shape than other Dobermans I’ve seen his age. And despite all that I’ve read and heard about the horrid pain of bone cancer, Shakespeare seems to be in fairly little discomfort, which is an answer to prayer.

But that makes it hard, too. He’s not in severe pain. He’s still enjoying his life, chilling on the couch or sunning himself in our early autumn weather. How can I take that away from him? Continue reading

Updates on the Dogs

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series Cancer & the Fight

And here’s your irregular update on Shakespeare and Laevatein….

Laevatein has no idea she’s sick. Aside from lethargy about 36-48 hours after her chemo — during which she’s merely sleepy, and doesn’t seem to feel ill except for just once — she’s living a totally normal life. We’ll hope the chemo does its thing and pushes the lymphoma into remission. In the meantime, we are so very glad we did our relaxation work with the mat before now, because I don’t know what our frequent clinic visits would be without it!

For Shakespeare, we’re just looking for as many good days as we can get — but so far, we’re getting more than expected! Yesterday marked FIVE WEEKS from his diagnosis with a prediction of as little as three weeks to live, so we’re very pleased. His jaw is distorted and swollen, and he’s having to work harder at eating and drinking, but the pain meds seem to be doing the trick and his attitude is pretty good, his routine pretty similar to what it’s been for the last year.

And I was told that his appetite would be the primary barometer of how he’s doing, that we should start making the tough decisions when he feels too bad to eat. (The cancer is in his jaw, so pain while eating is going to be a big factor.) But this is what Shakespeare looks like at suppertime: Continue reading

Waylaid by a Rimadyl Overdose

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Cancer & the Fight

Normally, the Rimadyl wouldn’t even have been in the house.

A 100 mg Rimadyl pill bought in the United Sta...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I personally don’t like carprofen for my dogs, due to the potential liver damage (which, I’ve read, Dobermans may be more susceptible to than some other breeds), and we tend to use other anti-inflamnatories when necessary. But Shakespeare was given as little as 3 weeks to live, and living long enough to develop liver problems would be a win anyway, so I brought home Rimadyl to keep him as comfortable as possible.

It didn’t even occur to me to ask if it came in a non-flavored version. My dogs are , and a regular capsule would have been much safer than bringing a liver-flavored drug into a house with Laev on prednisone, giving her chronic munchies and motivating her to new heights of counter-surfing. Continue reading

Our Cancer Fights

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Cancer & the Fight

So I’m making this a series, so we can connect all the cancer-related posts for anyone interested and in case it helps anyone later on. I really, really wanted to call this series “Kicking Cancer in the Teeth,” but I thought that might be tempting fate a little too viciously. But it’s the attitude I’m bringing, just the same.

First, thank you for all the prayers, good wishes, and support. I really appreciate it! Continue reading

Sad news: my sick dogs

This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series Cancer & the Fight
Cytology from a needle aspiration biopsy of a ...

Cytology from a needle aspiration biopsy of a lymph node of a dog with lymphoma.

Not quite sure how to start this one, so I guess I’ll just jump in…. Laevatein has terminal cancer. Lymphoma.

She was just diagnosed, when a vet found somewhat-enlarged lymph nodes during a routine exam. “I have to mention the c-word,” she said, “but she really doesn’t present like a cancer dog.” Indeed not; Laev is 8, but she’s quite active (she spent about 4 hours Sunday night circling and jumping, trying to work out how to reach a critter in a tree) and looks sleek and shiny. We figured some sort of tick-borne disease was more likely and ordered panels to test.

But the biopsies came back as lymphoma. Two weeks later, her lymph nodes are already large enough to visibly distort her silhouette in front and rear. Monday we met with the oncologist, discussed options, got further tests (cancer has likely spread to spleen and lungs, but not liver), and started chemotherapy. Continue reading

Music and Memory: Classical Conditioning in Real Life, part 3

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Music and Memory

Last time I shared examples of an extremely aversive experience poisoning what had once been a pleasant, rewarding behavior. So when something outside of your control goes wrong, how likely is it to destroy the behavior you’ve trained? Continue reading

Cropping, Docking, Political Correctness, Opinions, Animal Welfare, Free Speech, and Dogs

Dobermann Pinscher from 1915

Dobermann Pinscher from 1915 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fair warning: most of my posts I at least try to keep civil and positive. No guarantees today.

As regular readers will know, I have a breed which is in this country normally cropped and docked. Yes, that’s the actual AKC standard: “ears normally cropped.” There is some debate over whether that line should be interpreted “are usually cropped but not always,” or “are cropped in a normal manner.” And when I say “some debate,” I mean wars have been fought over this ground. Continue reading

All Pets Want for Christmas

All Pets Want for Christmas Blog Hop

What does your pet want for Christmas?

We asked Shakespeare and Laevatein, who agreed to provide this guest post. You’d do well to read it; how often do you get to see a dog write in iambic pentameter? (That will be Shakespeare, of course.)

And down below you’ll find a Linky for the related blog hop and a contest for a $50 gift card. Check it out! Continue reading