Friday, July 10, 2009

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for July 10, 09

Small Miracles

If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would be enough
Meister Eckhart

For a while, there was nothing much to go on. Kidogo Hodari Kasimu,-- my 11 year-old Brave Little Keeper of the Forest, the runt of the last litter of basenjis that I kept referring to as The Hideous Georgia Babies, since their daddy came out of Georgia and they were, from birth, Basenji times 10—was simply not right.

A February trip to the vet didn’t come up with any answers. By mid-June, it was clear something was very, very wrong. Normally a chow-hound and food-stealing gobbler, he was acting like all his food was inedible, and so was rapidly losing weight. This time the trip to the doctor resulted in a dire report: kidney failure and anemia, with blood test numbers indicating a situation that was hopeless. And since extreme kidney failure causes all food to taste metallic and awful, the little guy was facing two grim possibilities: starve to death or if the kidneys shut down totally, head into coma and death.

But Kasimu seemed to be at odds with this fatal forecast. Although he was easily tired, his eyes were bright and he was very much engaged with his world. And very hungry as well, desperately Hoovering around the other dogs at feeding time, mouthing bits of spilled kibble. But, like Tantalus, everything he sucked up into his mouth was tried once out of desperation, then rejected soundly. And so he got thinner and thinner, while I desperately shoved amoxicillin down his throat in case some hidden infection was causing this. And brought home bags and packets of every known treat and temptation I could find. Fancy dog biscuits and soft chewies, baby food, cooked liver, each would be tried for a few bites, then snubbed.

A friend stopped by to give him a reiki treatment, which seemed to quiet him into a long sleep. I made sure he had plenty of water and was kept bundled up and warm and reconciled myself to his oncoming death.

Then something odd happened. I was tossing out handfuls of little baby raw carrots, a treat which all the dogs loved, and Kasimu, snuffling among the pack, quickly swooped in and grabbed one. Then another. Then another. And ate each with relish.

Raw carrots? I quickly grabbed a handful of raw snap peas. They went down his gullet in an eyeblink. Then canned green bean after canned green bean. This was soon followed, over the days, with a bite or two of salmon or a piece of meat, boiled rice and even more green beans. Before long, at evening snack time he was actually finishing a large a dog biscuit.

And so here we are. A rail-thin “dead” dog making it through each new day as a VeggieDog who’s apparently running on carrots, rice and green beans, while I’m left to watch and wait and wonder. Kidney disease, as Google tells me, is very, very hard to diagnose, with often no clear symptoms until it’s too late. Since Basenjis are considered “primitive” dogs, did his ancient body wisdom kick in, remembering that in times of great famine, little Basenjis knew it was time to dig for roots and berries and so survive another day? Or is his body “resetting” to a new reality and is now stabilizing at a reduced level of operation?

At this point I have no way of knowing. Perhaps he will adjust and finish out his last years like one of those frail old men who exist on cigars and whiskey and live to be 101. Or it could all break bad in a few weeks. For now, each small meal is one tiny triumph. And through it all, one thing was clear. While I presumed grim fate bearing down on him and despaired, my Brave Little Keeper of the Forest didn’t know anything about his deathly prognosis so he wasted no time or energy on worry. Instead, he simply kept Hoovering along, a jug-eared canine Mr. McCawber trusting that somehow, something would turn up.

In this case, that small miracle arrived in the form of a raw carrot tossed on the floor as a crunchy treat. Another reminder that hope can sometimes come to us each day in small packages. That may not seem like much, but it’s all any of us really have. And it’s enough.


Sandra said...

Don't want to make light, but if a carrot works for a donkey - why not a dog?

annerallen said...

What a lovely piece. I'm so glad little Kidogo is on the mend. Ancient body wisdom is something we all need to pay more attention to.

Now that I'm your "follower" I got a preview of this post on my own blog "Dashboard" this AM (after I signed in.) Pretty cool. I thought the "follow" function was silly at first, but it's nice to know when there's an update on my favorite blogs.

Mine will be updated by tomorrow. Thanks for the mutual "follow."

But I do sort of hate all these jargon terms. At least in Blogger we don't have to say we've "friended" as one must on Facebook.

Churadogs said...

I really have not idea what's up with this little guy. He's now eating a bit of regular dog food in addition to his veggie eats.

Will see tomorrow if your follower follows my follower and I get a notice on this blog. This whold facebook thing is interesting. Has some possibilities pas the Junior High BFF "friend" thing.

Shark Inlet said...

Just a head's up ... over on Ron's site he's just told us that PZLDF has morphed into CCW and they've filed a lawsuit which is pretty much exactly the same lawsuit as PZLDF had already filed ... with the same lawyer. I wonder if PZLDF has paid their share of Sullivan's bill for the PZLDF suit because clearly the work product of the PZLDF suit is being used by Sullivan for CCW.

The funny thing is that Ron is telling that this suit will change everything and that a key part of the suit is to overturn 83-13 so that there will no longer be a mandate for a sewer.

Essentially this all boils down to a CCW attempt to, in the name of an "untainted process", stall long enough so that we lose our aquifers entirely.

I've gotta wonder if those who are participants in CCW own a substantial share in the firms who are likely going to be chosen to design a mechanism for Los Osos to get water from the State or County ... because that seems the most likely outcome of such a lawsuit.

Churadogs said...

Inlet, have you become "Mike," now? You're making stuff up. Woa! That's not like your usual self. Uh-oh, step away from the Kool-Aide bowl. And why are you dragging the Sewer into a posting about a sick dog? Addiction now a problem as well? Tsk, tsk.

Shark Inlet said...


Perhaps you could point out the key differences in the two lawsuits and let us know that PZLDF has already paid Sullivan three times what the LOCSD already has.

Without such evidence to back up your suggestion that I "making stuff up" it would seem that you simply disagree with my take on things.

As for my making a comment in an off-topic location, I apologize. I hadn't noticed you criticizing others for doing so in the past so I figured you didn't mind, figuring you would prefer "news" comments in the "top" areas rather than in stale sections.

FOGSWAMP said...

Interesting article and a most happy outcome.

I have a sweet-tempered, large as a pony, 165 pound Irish Wolfhound/Great Pyrenees Mut that is a very healthy 8 years old and has been eating carrots since a very young age.

I say interesting because this is the third Wolfhound I have lived with and they all ate carrots and lived 10-12 years, well beyond their average life expectancy of 6-8 years.

These are rather large carrots we keep in a big burlap bushel bag for the horse. He just helps himself to one and holds it between his huge paws and chews.

Also, he loves tree-ripe avacacados that fall from our trees!

Sharky old chap;
Get a dog and refrain from blogging while under the influence.

Churadogs said...

Kasimu is still chugging along. I have no idea what the outcome will be. Dr. Truax notes that kidney failure is a sort of up and down thing that . . . eventually goes down . . but that many dogs re-set their systems and chug along for quite a while. If I can keep him eating enough to survive, that may be half the battle, so it's purely a day by day operation.

And yep, lots of dogs love carrots. Ah, you've got Wolfies. Lovely, lovely dogs!!

FOGSWAMP said...

It's really sad to watch an animal deteriate and pass on. Just keep loving and stroking him, it seems to help both parties. It worked for me just recently.

I write this with tearful eyes because our lovely feral cat of 8 years passed away on July fourth.

"Boots" was a rather large outside cat capable of defending herself against the elements (man and nature). However, she came home about three weeks ago all torn up in the facial area. We had her treated and she seemingly healed rapidly.

On July 4th our neighbor came over and advised us Boots was lying in their front yard and crying loudly.

The nearest vet we could find that day was in Arroyo Grande, so we quickly found a basket and made her a comfortable bed for the long trip.

Her whole body relaxed, her gasping for air and loud crying stopped when she felt my hand gently and compassionately stroking her fur.

Sadly, she passed away on the vet's table while being diagnosed.

We are still Soooooo sad.

Thanks for the opportunity to vent a bit, it semms to help the passing.