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Plato

Bittersweet Anniversary

Coming up, April 23 is the anniversary of when Plato decided to get old.
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Goofball

I haven’t written about Jasper much lately, so I think it’s about time for a Pupdate.

I apologize for not having a picture. At the time of this writing, I am snuggled down on the couch with both dogs, so I can’t be bothered to uproot myself to get a camera….oh wait…I HAVE a camera…on my laptop…hang on…ok…here:

Jasper at 9 Months

Jasper at 9 Months

So not as high quality as an actual CAMERA photo, but it will do. He was moving a lot too…trying to steady a laptop while holding a wiggly Boston is not easy. Notice how his tearstains have diminished? I don’t know why they were more noticeable as a puppy. He had his nine month birthday the other day. We took him to a pet store and let him pick out a toy…a stuffed jack-type shape.

Jasper is a nut. He LOVES my perfume. It doesn’t matter what kind…my own creations or commercial…he likes to sniff and lick my wrists. I try not to let him lick so he won’t lick it off me, as it wouldn’t be good for him and defeats the purpose of perfume, which is necessary with a Boston as I’ll get to in a minute. No other pet we’ve had, except for long-departed Natasha the Cat, has liked perfume. Most dogs and cats I’ve had really don’t like human perfume at all. Dogs especially prefer natural animal odors, and the stinkier the better. I don’t know what it is about Jasper, or Natasha for that matter, that makes them like the sweet smells.

Jasper at 9 months

Jasper at 9 months

Stan and I always kid around about what the animals would do or be if they were human. This will vary greatly from puppy/kittenhood to the time they are an adult. As a puppy, I always said Plato would be either a musician or a demolition expert. By the time he died, I realized Plato would’ve been the next Stephen Hawking. When he was younger, he would stare at my art, which would cause him to spin around, stare more at the art, and spin more. We said he was contemplating stars going around in his head. We were watching a Discovery show with Stephen Hawking at the time Plato was dying. They reminded me of eachother in a strange way.

Jasper has the makings of a musician and demolition expert as well (especially demolition of office supplies and personal care products such as emory boards, carmex tubes and unused feminine hygiene products). Jasper is a very musical dog, but his musicality is more in terms of what he does with squeak toys. He LOVES squeak toys, and makes great rhytyhmic sounds with them. Plato actually HATED the squeaker and would try very hard to remove the device from all toys that contained it. Plato’s musicality came more from his own voice…he used to sing as he whined. He sang so well until we boarded him for a few weeks one year (while taking Hieronymus with us…bad mistake–never, ever ever separate the pack…either board both or take both with). He was so lonely without Hieronymus, when we came to pick him up, he was practically hoarse from barking so much. He never sang right again. If Jasper and Plato could’ve known eachother when they were both young, Plato would be the singer and Jasper would be the musician. Jasper also clucks like a chicken. Sometimes we call him Chicken Dog.

Jasper is also an artist. We gave him some toys that were made of colorful synthetic rope. He shreded the rope, which created such beautiful fiber art. Hieronymus, named after Bosch, was supposed to be the Art Dog, but his vision was way too bad.

Jasper is a very social dog, loves to meet new people, very submissive with new dogs…very unlike Plato in that way. In other ways he reminds me so much of him….the way he “moops”, the way he “oofs” (must be universal Boston Terrier noises)…and the bad gas. Actually, as far as external body odor, I think Boston Terriers are the absolute best smelling dogs there are. You can put your nose right up against their body and they will smell so good…no doggy odor. Even Pugs, which are also very clean smelling dogs, do have a certain “Pug odor.” But not Bostons. Their short coat and lack of wrinkles probably help in that regard. However, do a search on “Boston Terrier Gas” and you will find that they are probably one of the smelliest dogs in that regard. They are very gassy. This is why I like need scented candles and perfume. But I’d much rather have a clean-smelling but gassy dog than a low-fart dog that has that constant doggy fur stink.

I just wish Jasper and Tim could’ve known each other as well as the other dogs knew Tim.

Astronomical Odds

Neither Stan nor I are social butterflies. We have a few close friends…not a big network. That makes the friends we do have very special to us. We already lost a good friend we knew in college who we had fallen out of touch with, around the same time we lost our dog Plato. A couple weeks ago we got a call from a very close friend in another state, saying that he had just had surgery over the Thanksgiving holiday. This was a few months after *he* had lost his stepfather. Common surgery, nothing removed that one cannot live without. He is doing fine now, however.

This is very hard for me to write about this.

Last week we were in the hospital for four nights visiting another very close friend. He is not doing fine. He has been through so many health problems. He had a stroke 7 years ago, heart surgery a half year after that, and has been plagued with everything…migraines, sinus infections and more, and now he recently had a bad infection that was affecting his heart surgery from before, which landed him in the hospital. Yesterday, he had a brain hemorrhage and that resulted in emergency brain surgery.

Even if he pulls through this, there is no hope for him getting his life back to what it was. But I fear we will lose another friend this year. What are the odds?

He was always connected to our dogs. He fell in love with Hieronymus when he met him, and never a time would go by after we lost Hieronymus that he wouldn’t come up in conversation with us. The strange thing was that he got his stroke the year Hieronymus died. It is so not surprising that this would happen to him the year Plato died.

Back in 1996/97, Stan’s parents lost their dog that they had had a long time, and a few months later Stan’s father died.

I always had a feeling that when Plato died, someone close to me would die. I am afraid it will be prophetic.

Comparative Bostons

Jasper at 7 months old

I’ve never compared two pets more than I have Jasper and Plato. They seem so similar yet so different. I didn’t have that problem with Lucifer Sam and Hieronymus. Hieronymus was fawn, and Lucifer Sam is black. That seemed to be quite the dividing line between pug confusion.

As soon as we brought Jasper home and played with him in our yard, I knew immediately as I watched his reaction to our neighbors that he had a completely different personality than Plato. Plato barked at our neighbors almost until the end. Jasper rarely does. He wiggles a lot and jumps up a lot, but rarely barks.

We took Jasper to an indoor small dog play last Saturday, and he did not say a WORD! He was eager to get to know tiny dogs, and was very submissive with dogs his own size. Plato was always antagonistic with new dogs.

Plato was an Alpha, and Jasper is a Beta, which makes a bit of a problem with Lucifer Sam, also a Beta, as they try to establish their alphaness over eachothers betaness. With Plato and Lucifer Sam, it established itself very early. Plato was in charge.

Jasper is very friendly with people. His ears go back and he wants to jump up…you can see a wiggle starting throughout his body. Jasper’s tail is not waggable. It’s like a little stumpy curlique with no mobility. People often wonder if Bostons’ tails are docked. They are not. Plato had what we called a “thumb.” His tail was thumb-size and thumblike. I could wag. It also folded itself inward before he sat down on it. As he got old, the fur wore out on it where he would sit. Plato wagged his thumb around us a lot. But it took him a long time to warm up to new people.

I was just noticing recently that Jasper’s ears seem much larger than Plato’s were. They seem like very big ears. Plato smiled and grinned a lot, a great big ear-to-ear grin. When Jasper opens his mouth to pant, it’s not a grinning pant, but just an open mouth. Jasper seems like such a happy, comical dog, but he doesn’t smile. Odd.

Plato had what we called “a pouty little lower lip” and a noticeable underbite. Sometimes you’d see his lower teeth. Toward the end of his life, he reminded me of recent pictures of Stephen Hawking. Jasper does not have a pouty little lower lip. I’m sure he has an underbite as Bostons should, (our Cat Apollo has an underbite too!), but it’s not noticeable.

They both love/d sitting next to a furnace vent in the winter. They both love/d snuggling hard next to me in the morning as I drink coffee and check email. They both love sleeping by Stan’s feet at night as he rests on the futon.

Plato had a prancey little run inside the house. Jasper bounces. I thought he’d outgrow the bounciness, but still at 7 months (yesterday was his 7 month birthday), he hops and bounces. We nickednamed him “Boing Boing.”

Around 2000 or 2001 When Plato was a few years old, I started a blog for him, which rubbed some people @$$#°!?$ wrong. Today, everybody’s dog has a blog. I decided I’m going to raise Jasper as a luddite. I think he’ll be happier that way.

Mezzanine

The dog pooped on the landing.

The dog shat in the mezzanine.

I have a small mezzanine. It’s really just a landing, as it’s only about six square feet. But I’m pretending it’s a mezzanine. Jasper, like Lucifer Sam and Plato before him, would run up to the mezzanine level and make dumplings there, forgetting he’d been outside not just two minutes before. Puppies are that way, they forget things. So do humans.

If I were a very small human, about one foot tall, I could set up a habitable area…a little lounge, a reading room…it even has a little square window that’s down by knee level. This is probably one of the reasons this house was so attractive to me. Not only was it the original open wood staircase, but it was the fact the staircase came with a tiny, miniature, if you stretch your imagination–mezzanine.

I have no idea why that word suddenly popped into my brain, unannounced, the other day. I have been unable to shake it. I think my first encounter with the term might have been at an airport, where I believe mezzanine levels are fairly common. But I remember it strongest from when I first visited the Milwaukee Art Museum when I was about 14 or 15. I was most impressed by their modern art. But that is what I took with me on the exterior….my major in college and beyond. On the interior, the thing I forgot, was the architecture of the building itself. And it had a mezzanine.

The word “mezzanine” to me implies a mystery…an irrational number, something unobtainable. It’s not a whole number, it’s not a whole floor. It’s a floor between floors. It’s a threshold to a strange universe, like the 7 1/2 floor in “Being John Malkovich.

I’ve always loved multi-level homes. I don’t think I could ever live in a house with just one floor, unless that house was extremely complex. My favorite house was in a suburb called “Bayberry” outside of Liverpool, which was outside of Syracuse. It was a split-level rental. Counting the basement it had four levels in all. I had a friend whose house had an additional fifth level, which was the Master Suite. I’d stare up there, never allowed to climb that last half-set of stairs, wondering what was on that top level. I didn’t care about her parent’s belongings…even at nine years old I was interested in the architecture itself. Split level homes are sort of like homes with fully-actualized mezzanines…mezzanines that are given full floor privileges.

When we were looking to buy a house, split levels weren’t in our targeted area. We were being directed to older homes…fixer uppers, the bottom of the barrel. In 1990, split levels were still too new and pricey. Now, it seems it’s all been switched. 100-year old houses like ours are desired for their old charm, whereas mid-century modern Brady-Bunch style tract homes are now becoming the cheap ones that no one wants anymore.

I have been trying to find floor plans with true mezzanines on The Google…call it a search for the perfect “house porn.” So far not much luck. Mostly all I’m finding are businesses that supply roll-away mezzanines for convention centers (blow-up dolls). Or I find a floor plan with a balcony on the same level as the top floor, and they call it a mezzanine (transvestites). Wrong! I want the real thing.

I might just have to go to the Milwaukee Art Museum to see the mezzanine again. This time, it will be with little interest in the art. I’m so burned out on art…not much impresses me at all anymore. Images certainly do not impress me. Meaning and content is so trite. The only thing I really relate to is the basic formal structures…color, texture and pattern. I’m so much more interested in what houses the art, the building, and the architecture of the building. That is so much more meaningful to me than an image pretending to represent something that it isn’t.

I hear that now MAM admission is free every first Thursday of the month. Hint-hint, Stan?

Jasper’s Ears and Dream with Mouse

Jasper at 13 weeks

Jasper at 13 weeks with a whacky bentback ear

Last night I dreamt Jasper was playing with a mouse. Now IRL I would never let my animals play with a live animal. But I was allowing it in the dream. The mouse was about 3 inches long, not including the tail. It was pink and hardly had any fur. Apollo later joined in on the fun. Jasper was pretty gentle with it, but Apollo finished killing it off. It was sad, and I felt bad that I had let them kill it.

A couple weeks ago, Jasper’s ears started becoming a little more erect. His right ear was the first to stand up, although the tip bent backwards. His left ear was a little slower. I was wondering if it was ever going to stand up, or if it would always flop forward like a puppy. I know I went through the same thing with Plato when he was that age, and he made it through that “awkward ear stage” just fine. A few days ago, Jasper’s left ear finally decided to stay up. But his right ear hasn’t changed. I am now wondering if it will be permanently bent backwards. I’m hoping he’s just at that awkward stage.

Plato when he was young

Plato when he was young...winter 1996/97

The picture above I took of Jasper today. The picture to the left is of Plato when he was about the same age or probably a little older. Sometimes Jasper looks nothing like Plato, but the picture above reminded me of him so much. Little mannerisms, like when he does the spastic paws in the air thing is so Plato. Different personalities, though. Jasper is incredibly well-behaved around people, only barks when he is playing with other pets. I don’t remember Plato being as spastic, though. Was he? Or am I just getting old?

The Cycle of Life

Sleeping Jasper

Sleeping Jasper

After Vladimir our 2nd cat died in November of 1998, I couldn’t bear being without a grey kitty. We adopted Caligula only a few days later. After Hieronymus our fawn pug died, we got Lucifer Sam 3 weeks later, which I thought was pretty soon to find a black Pug. After Persephone, our 3rd cat died, we waited over a month to get Apollo, timing it conveniently with Stan’s time off for a “Kitten vacation.” I was fearing it would be much longer before we could get a Boston Terrier due to our plans to be away in August. I knew we either had to get one soon, or we would have to wait until September. The thought of being without a Boston was tearing me up inside. I was so depressed every day. Our other animals were sad and missing him too.

I know that getting another animal does not replace the animal that precedes it. It is silly to think such. Each animal is unique and has its own personality. But what it does do is bring our focus from depressed to engaged again. It continues the cycle of life, of our life together with our animals…cat, pug, cat, boston, cat, pug, cat, boston, and so on.

I feel it is important that there are 2 of each. Having not had one like myself growing up, I know how much it sucks. Even though Lucifer Sam is a little freaked out by Jasper right now, soon they will be couch snuggle buddies together…a little pack of two. Caligula was a hiss-monster with Apollo at first, but now they sleep in touching symmetrical shapes on the bed together. Plato grrrred at Lucifer Sam when we brought him home and snapped at his head. We had to keep them separated for several days until Plato acclimated to him. But after that, they were buddies until Plato died.

When I have my 2 sets of 2, I feel much more balanced, like life is normal. And I can remember all my other animals that have moved on fondly, but not have to cry myself sick about it.

Drying My Eyes Out

We went from Plato’s Little Nursing Home to Jasper’s Little Nursery.

We have Jasper! And my photos I took earlier suck. I’m fine with the camera shooting jewelry and beads, but not so with wiggly puppies.

Jasper was born April 23. That was the day Plato decided to get old. The day he decided he couldn’t walk well or jump up on the futon. There’s something very strange “migration of the soul” about that.

We got him on Monday. He cried some that night, but last night he cried for freaking ever. I’m going without sleep–again–and my eyes are really dry and blurry (it’s a good thing I had my dreadful eye exam LAST week…they’d really have cause for concern now, not to mention how messed up my new prescription might be). I have him crated right now so I can write this down, and he’s being very good. I don’t know what his problem was last night…I was afraid police would knock on our door from being cruel to animals from the sounds he was making. We’re doing what we’re supposed to do when crate training, not giving into tempting cries, no matter how plaintive…and LOUD. Maybe he doesn’t like the dark. Maybe he likes it better when a blanket isn’t covering the crate. Maybe it’s best to put him away and wait a while until he’s asleep until we go asleep. Who knows.

Jasper

Here’s a picture…it’s poor quality, but it gives you some idea of what he looks like. I was showing pictures to Stan last week of a potential Boston (that we didn’t get) and he said they looked like Plato. I told him that all Bostons will look like Plato now. Well, it’s not true. He doesn’t really look like Plato…his face is flatter, he’s cobbier, shorter legs, markings are a tad different, black instead of brindle. Maybe when he grows older I’ll start to see more similarities.

I hope to have better pictures later…my vision and photography abilities are pretty low right now.

Crying My Eyes Out

I had started crying my eyes out over a month ago when Plato first showed signs of going downhill quickly. I was preparing for that day for a while, yet it always comes too soon, and Stan and I wish we could both hold him just one last time. However if we had that last time, we’d always want one more last time after that.

I keep thinking of all these things to write down, short remembrances of him, like the day we brought him home, and when he (and we) discovered beds and how he was “good in bed” (he just lied down and slept, unlike our then-pug, Hieronymus, who would chase around on them and do a bad doggy potty thing).

I remembered when we travelled with Plato when he was still just a few months old to go to Stan’s Dad’s funeral, and then when he was about a year old to go up north to the UP to see the Paulding lights. I remember a photo of him with Hieronymus and a gigantic mushroom.  I remember his silly tricks like “go get the hair tie”, and how he would spin around on the futon and stop and stare at my paintings on the wall, as if the metallic cosmos-like reflections did something to his imagination.

I remembered how up until recently he would snuggle with me and Lucifer Sam on my futon under a blanket in the middle of the day.

I remember so many things, too many to recount.

In the early morning of  Thursday, May 27, 2010, I awoke to a horrible dream. I dreamt that Stan had a bunch of blue crushed up crystals that looked like Azurite. But I knew what it was, it was Cyanide. He said that we could take it because life had gotten horrible. At that moment, this strange feeling swept through my body, still dreaming, and I started to see our situation from a strange and scary perspective. I did not want to die, yet I was frightened that Stan thought it was so awful. I told him no, I was not ready, that if I was in terrible physical pain I would consider it, but not now. I woke up and cried my eyes out.

That night we had put Plato upstairs in the air-conditioning to try to calm him and cool him, yet he still barked all night. Stan slept with earplugs. I could still hear him. Early in the morning when Stan got up for the early shift, I recounted my dream, and tried to get him to stay home. See, I’m an oracle. Oracles speak in strange words and images that don’t always make sense. He went to work anyway.

Plato would not settle down that morning. He was constantly asking me to take him outside to relieve himself, he was constantly panting from pain. He was maxed out on the highest dose our vet allowed us to give him of the painkillers. Even though he had regained his appetite a bit and was eating regular dog food and his poo was more normal-looking, he was crying in pain more and more when one tried to pick him up because he could not lift himself up.

Stan called from work and we discussed it. We realized he was trying to tell us he wanted to go…it was time. He made an appointment with the vet for later that afternoon, and around 2:45-3:00 pm he left this world.

I still cannot stop crying

Plato: I Love You So Much

Plato

Plato: August 28, 1996 - May 27, 2010

More Later,

Update

Plato regained his appetite and is now eating canned dog food. It’s sort of limbo land. I seriously did not expect him to get his appetite back. A couple weeks ago, I thought he’d be gone by now. He has the worse time getting up and sitting down, however is walking…slow, but walking, even faster than a couple weeks ago.

I have no idea what is going on. It’s sort of like LOST…he was supposed to die in a plane crash, but he’s still on an island trying to survive. Weird metaphor, but closest I can describe. Maybe he just needs to let go, but he’s so clingy.

Not Even Meat

Plato is still hanging in there, but I know the end is so close. A few weeks ago he still ate regular dog food. Last week he would only nibble at canned food, and recently only allowed us to feed him real meat. Now he is refusing real meat. I was able to get some Trader Joe’s Dog Snacks down him. He still eats those.

He is sleeping more now. Last week was very restless, waking up all the time to take him out. But now he lets us sleep more. Stan had the last couple nights because I have been completely wiped out. I will have to stay with Plato when he works the early shift next week, though.

His breathing, which used to be labored because of his enlarged heart, is now slowing down. I have prepared myself for this for a long time, but it still breaks me up each time I face the inevitable.

I have spent over $400 in the recent weeks at the vet’s. They can’t find anything wrong except for the enlarged heart, which we’ve known about for some time and are treating with Furosamide and Enalapril (sp?). They think his pain is due to arthritis. They could do a (sonogram? radiography?) but last time we put him through that, it was a dreadful time coming out of the sedation. I am not putting him through that again.

We are just giving him as much comfort as we can. We’ll know when he wants to go, when he refuses all food and water and when he’s lost all desire for pleasure. We knew that when Persephone’s time  had ended and we had her put to sleep. Right now, Plato still loves to go for rides. We always put our dogs in their kennels when we travel with them, and when Stan takes the kennel out, Plato always barks so he won’t be left behind. Last night, despite his lameness, he followed Stan out to the van, up the incline to the parking stall. It was the cutest thing.

The last year

I have been through so much. Within the past few weeks, I have been through so much turmoil as my beautiful Boston Terrier, Plato is dying.

Plato is over 13 years old. I do not believe he can make it to 14 in August. He has an enlarged heart and heart murmur. He was diagnosed with this condition last year, yet all the time he was very agile and seemed normal, except he wasn’t active as he used to be.

A few weeks ago, he decided it was time to get old. He started to limp, then scream in pain. He can no longer walk more than a few steps. Stan and I transport him outside to use the potty. He sits on a pillow when eating. Soon he will lose his appetite altogether. Then I know it will be time to let go. I am in tears as I write this. I have been in tears constantly since this started.

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