All posts by Stan

Writing the day after letting go

July 10, 2013

We let Lucifer Sam go yesterday afternoon with our Vet. He was on Ann’s lap while he was given the injections and I held his head so he didn’t have to rest the weight of his head on his tumors. He was beginning to refuse water that morning and the timing to let him go was as good as it could have been. Very soon our pug dog will become someone else, but our love for him and his love for us will not change.

Lucifer Sam inspired me to begin making our own dog treats. His illness caused me to wonder about mixing up some high antioxidant foods and baking them into dry dog treats. I experimented with different berries like; aronia, strawberries, blueberries and black raspberries. I tried working with some roots like sweet potatoes and beets, and also experimented with greens like dandelion, cilantro and parsley. Some of these treats turned out to be tasty even to me while others were too stinky to dry in the oven, and instead had to be made into frozen dog treats.

I’m very grateful to Lucifer Sam for inspiring me to experiment with making dog treats. I feel like I want to take these handful of antioxidant dog treat recipes and refine them. Plus I can think of all sorts of new recipes to try, but I think I should wait until Jasper finishes off the large quantities we already have in our freezer and refrigerator. Hopefully, next winter I can try making more and better dog treats, but I owe the inspiration for these creative urges to Lucifer Sam.

Lucifer Sam made our lives better and I wish he was still with us. I will always wish he could still be with us just as I wish I could still be with every dog I love who is no longer with me.

The day we let him go

We made an appointment to have him put to sleep, and waited another day just in case his appetite came back. The following are some final thoughts I wrote down on his last day and the day after we let him move on:

July 9, 2013

Lucifer Sam’s last day with us.

In the morning I woke up and Lucifer Sam was lying quietly in the kennel next to my inflatable bed. It was still early in the morning and Ann was still asleep down stairs in the main bedroom. I’ve been sleeping with Lucifer Sam in the air conditioned upstairs so he would not be alone at night, and this was the last night we would have together.

I took Lucifer Sam out of his kennel and carried him down stairs. We went outside and the mosquitoes were very aggressive in the grey morning air. The pug did what he needed to do and gave me some hope. He hasn’t pooped for over a day until now and I wondered hopefully if he might want some food. Perhaps his bodily functions are only barely working, because he had no interest in any foods I offered him. He poked at the newly opened can of soft dog food with his face and walked away. The chicken in broth with a few bits of bacon usually gets him to at least lap some of the broth, but he wouldn’t come near the dish this morning.

I took him and Jasper into our bedroom to see Ann and placed Lucifer Sam next to Ann. I wish we could be together like this always. Life only lets us have the dogs we love for a little while, and the time is always too short.

Lucifer Sam wanted to go back outdoors again, and walked all the way to the front of the house into the fern and hosta garden. He pooped there again, but I couldn’t find it under all the ground cover leaves. We went back inside and eventually got all the pets into the first floor bedroom with the air conditioner. The main floor of the house is still hot from the day before, so it’s better to keep Lucifer Sam out of the heat. He seems more sensitive to the heat than ever, I suppose, because the tumors are making it difficult for him to breath.

It rained a little and the house cooled down, which is good because Lucifer Sam can breath easier in the cooler air. After I had finished cleaning the newt cage I sat with Lucifer Sam on the futon and had him snuggle next to me in my armpit like I use to do with him when he was a puppy. A few more times I took him outdoors to walk around and seemed to be walking around the yard as if he were having one last look at it. I can’t imagine to know whether he knows if this is his last day or not, but in my anthropomorphic view of him he was kind of saying goodbye to the place he knows and loves.

I sat in a chair with him on my lap for what seemed like a long time, and talked to him about how much I appreciated being with him. I told him we were both in a beautiful place, and that I owed him a debt of gratitude because I could not have found this beauty without his love.

We had already made the appointment yesterday to have him put to sleep at 3 in the afternoon. Time went by so slowly this day that it seemed like we have always been together, and it felt like 3 o-clock was never going to come. Time did pass though and as it came closer to his time I carried him to see each of the cats and asked the cats to say goodbye to him. I asked Jasper to say goodbye to him one more time. Earlier in the day the dogs were sitting close to one another on the futon and they both seemed very sad. I was wondering if they communicate with each other and know that their time together is near an end. I think they do understand something about life coming to an end, and they do miss one another so much when one of them dies.

It is hard to let go

Lucifer Sam was the most fair minded dog I’ve known and loved. At dog play groups, if one dog became too snarly with another dog, Lucifer Sam would bark at them as if to be telling them they needed to stop. I think he counted treats with his other companion dogs, so if I gave a certain number of treats to another dog he seemed to make sure I gave him the same amount. When we would be together watching movies or other activities Lucifer Sam, made sure he spent time sitting next to both Ann and I so that one of us wouldn’t go the whole time without a Pug dog to snuggle with. Lucifer Sam had a natural sense of fairness more than most dogs and way, way more than most people.

He was named after a cat from a Pink Floyd song, and his birthday was one day before the birthday date of Sid Barret. Lucifer Sam died a few days after the date that Sid Barret passed away, and there appears to be some poetry in his life and time with us.

He was a dog who cared and loved Ann and I as well as all his other dog and cat companions, and of course we were deeply saddened when we discovered he had cancer.

When Ann first found the swollen gland on his neck, we were hoping it was only an infection. The examinations and tests showed that there was cancer, and we wanted him to have surgery as soon as possible. Lucifer Sam had had cancer twice before, on a forearm and hind leg, and surgery had saved his life in those times. We soon realized that this time cancer would take his life. The cancer started in a place behind a tooth where we could not easily notice a lump. We are at least fortunate that the first two times we could find the cancer soon enough, but this time the tumor could not be found until it was too late.

After Lucifer Sam’s surgery we soon learned that the cancer was advanced and continuing to grow fast. The initial surgery was good to remove remove the early tumors and some necrotic tissue. The hospital staff cared for him well and explained to us all of the benefits and risks for treating his cancer with radiation and vaccines. We
could have done treatments that would have had us going in for medical procedures and appointments nearly every week to treat his condition, and he would have been a great patient. He was the kind of dog who was gentle and cooperative with medical care. Surely, if Lucifer Sam’s cancer had been discovered sooner and the tumors were growing more slowly, then we would have wanted all available treatments.

With cancer it feels like we are living in some sort of medical dark age with limited options being only treatments of symptoms not cures. Treatments are sort of like taking vitamins, because they may improve the quality of life or they can cause more harm. The best hope for using treatments is to have more time, to spend with our beloved dog. We would have wanted more time but the choice is not only about the length of time but also how that time is spent.

We decided that the best remaining time we could spend with Lucifer Sam was not involving lost days to anesthesia and recovering from radiation burns. Instead we would accept the short time we had, and do bicycle rides, car rides, nature trails, dog parks, or just hang out in the back yard. Giving him the best and most time to enjoy the things he liked is the way we wanted to spend our time with him, and we did something with him every day.

Bicycling is something new for our dogs this year as Ann got me a carrier for dogs to pull behind my bicycle for my last birthday. Jasper, our 3 year old Boston Terrier, doesn’t seem to understand going for a bicycle ride, and might prefer to go for walks. Lucifer Sam was over 10, and he took to lying down and watching the world go by behind a bicycle on the first ride.

One day a turtle was crossing our bicycle path and I stopped to try and get Lucifer Sam to look at it, but he kept looking at me as if to ask why we stopped. I think dogs like to be outdoors so much because they can pick up on lots of smells. We nicknamed these bicycle or car rides, “smell tours.”

Lucifer Sam stayed in fair health in spite of the growing tumors and enjoyed his time with us and the other pets longer than we expected. He made time with us all the way through the end of June, but in July he began to seem a little less happy. I continued to think he was doing well, but this was only my optimism. Then he became very ill and stopped having interest in food. I could sometimes get him to eat some bacon bits in diced chicken and warm broth, but sometimes he would even run away from food.

When this downturn began, I thought to myself:  “I know I’m going to miss our Pug too soon, and every day I keep hoping he might feel a little better so we can have more time. I’m beginning to worry that my expectations are too selfish and that I need to let him go. I know I need to let him go. I’ve known that we have to let him go for several months now, but it’s alway harder than I ever imagine it to be to let go of any beloved dog.” Our dog was beginning to leave us.

Cedar Apple Rust

Wow, this stuff is strange and beautiful. I was taking a walk for part of my break time at work a few days ago and walked by a pine shrub like fitzer tree with these great pine cone structures on them. It looked like they were in bloom, but they were sort of slimy. I’ve never been a fan of pine trees and especially not caring for fitzer types. That is if I had space to plant trees I like pines and fitzer like plants would be my lowest priority for my tree collection.

Seeing these beautiful orange things on a fitzer tree made me think that I wanted to grow something beautiful like this.

I took Ann back to the location to see these wild things, but they were dried up and not so beautiful any longer. She looked up these things on the web and they are actually a fungus and not flowers or pine cones. It is exciting to learn that a fungus can be so beautiful.

More Theaetetus Beginning

The introduction has two layers before beginning the dialogue between Socrates and Theaetetus.

In the first layer Terpsion finds Euclides after Euclides has departed from Theaetetus who is dying from severe war wounds and dysentery. They walk to the home of Euclides where he has his servant read the discourse between Socrates and Theaetetus for them while they rest. The whole thing is written by Plato, but inside the story of the dialogue it is Euclides who wrote the notes which Euclides and Terpsion are listening to as the main dialogue read by a servant within the context of resting at the home of Euclides.
Continue reading More Theaetetus Beginning

Co-worker Surprise

A friend at work asked me if Ann was feeling better, because I stayed home with her for a few days last week. I told her that Ann had eaten scrambled eggs last night so I knew she was much better.

Then I explained how I quit being a union steward because I wanted to spend more time with Ann after she was sick in Colorado over a year ago. I’m not very intense as a politician anyway and when she was sick it caused me to change my time priorities. After all it’s more fun to hang out with Ann than a bunch of political types in union meetings.

Then my friend started to say that she thought being political means standing up for what you believe in and that Scott Walker, for instance was to be admired for this even though most people don’t like him.

I was probably giving her strange looks and asked for more information on how she arrived at this view… She explained that Scott Walker was able to be unpopular and tell everyone that there was a money shortage… well this makes him an honest politician.

I wanted to cuss, but refrained and tried to explain that Scott gave away millions in tax cuts to corporations then turned around to working class people and told them they would have to pay for this. Also, Tommy the republican ran the state into major debt, Doyle brought our state out of debt and Scott Walker just ran us back into debt. If Scott Walker did nothing after he was elected the budget for 2011 would have been a balanced one for the first time in decades, but he broke the budget to give hand outs to corporations.

She started changing the subject from the honesty of Scotty to the corporations, because maybe the corporations needed the money.

The conversation went no where after this and I went a away feeling very sad that someone who is in a union could be so mislead by – probably some stupid church minister and maybe fox news or perhaps some husband with neocon concepts… I don’t know, but I hate these kinds of political conversations with co-workers. It just makes no sense and I end up feeling bad.

I suppose I could mention this to our current union steward or union president, because they might be interested is offering her some more substantial facts. I just feel that I don’t want to press these kinds of conversations too far, even thought it is tempting.

Beginning the Theaetetus

It’s been more than 16 years since I first read Theaetetus by Plato, and revisiting it now feels like reading it for the first time. What I remember from the first reading is Socrates questioning Theaetetus about knowledge, and some vague memories of a theory of false beliefs. Now I’ve noticed there is something in the opening I completely overlooked until now.

The tone set in the beginning is one of sadness. Theaetetus 142 – 144D

It appears the life of Theaetetus ends too soon. Theaetetus is praised for his bravery and conduct in battle, so it surely remains that his sacrifice in war become his contribution rather than some later accomplishment in mathematics.

Even though the sacrifice of Theaetetus is great and admirable the opening leaves me to wonder what Theaetetus may have accomplished if he had lived. I feel conflicted between the admiration of the sacrifice, and wondering if some contribution he may have made later in life has been squandered. Not that his sacrifice is any less important, but it is haunting to wonder what the world has missed out on because Theaetetus didn’t live.

I’ve lost a few relatives to war, but they are people I’ve only heard about long after they are gone. My grandmother’s son Jeff for instance. Strangely, the family members who knew him spoke very little about him. I can’t remember the words my grandmother said about Jeff, but I can still see the sadness in her eyes when she did have something to say about him.

I am old enough that I had to register for the draft when I turned 18, and I was genuinely frightened by the prospect that I might end up in some unforeseen war. I count myself very fortunate that there were no wars while I was of military age. I believe a world without war is actually possible, and there is no such thing as a real necessity for war. War is a byproduct of greed caused by wealthy power brokers, and their lust for pleasure. War is a method of the paranoid rich to keep poor people fearing each other instead of helping one another. War culture survives with a hungry ghost world view that the only way one person can have life it to take someone the life of someone else. War is is ultimately a deception, and contrarily to our true human nature, which is to help other people survive.

I find it sad to think that some of my own relatives have lost their lives to war, and it is surely hard to imagine losing someone whom I know in person that way. We should honor everyone who dies in war including so called enemies, and hopes that all people will work towards compassion instead of war.

As for Theaetetus the opening is somber, but also there is an elegance in these passages with Theaetetus wanting to be home. Presumably, Theaetetus knew he was going to die from his wounds and illness, so his desire to return home must have been the last important thing he ever wanted in life.

Dream with Tim

I was in some sort of old school building, which was a very tall building. I had to run up the stair wells as exercise like I was in some high school gym class. This was not fun, but I was doing the stairs anyway.

When I reached the top of the building there were two guys playing a piano together like they were having fun more than making music seriously. Tim was sitting next to them smoking a cigarette. He was having a good time talking with the guys and said hi to me as I ran past.

I was thinking wait, why am I still running – I should go talk with Tim, then I woke up.

Dream with Spiral Landscape and Wolf

I was on the high plains of Colorado, a part of the world that belongs to my childhood. I was looking off in the distance at a beautiful limestone shelf, and noticed a cone formation too. I don’t know if there are any cones in that part of the world, but if there are there would be very few. Plenty of limestone shelfs though. I was thinking the cone looked like the one in New Mexico north of white sands. The cone was beautiful and while I watched I noticed a spiral from above it in the sky and then the cone became part of the spiral – then the ground too.
Continue reading Dream with Spiral Landscape and Wolf

Hot Dreams

I keep dreaming that it is too hot to watch movies. There is steam in the air and water condensing on floors, walls and people too. It’s like everything should be turning rusty colors of brown – like roast beef cooking in an oven or metal rusting on cars. Actually, the cars are rusting, but the trees and grass are green, and there are even beautiful flowers blooming every day. Wait, I’m not dreaming – it’s Wisconsin with global warming.