Mopsey and Rufus both came from Nancy Hotz, at Fair Oaks Farm in Cuba, Missouri. If you have not had enough doggy pictures from the Blog page, then read on. I remember when I "found" Nancy; the nearest OES breeder was in Connecticut and they not only wanted a very high price, but they were incredibly snotty. Hey! I am the one who fox hunted with Meadow Brook Hounds, I am entitled to snotty, not some ding-dong in Connecticut. Anyhow, the OES Association recommended Nancy and that was about it.
Over the years Nancy has become a very close friend, and a partner in faith. We have exchanged books and devotionals and we are present in each other's lives through faith. I am hoping and praying that this summer I will be able to take the dogs on a road trip to visit Dad, then take a long loop to Missouri. I pray the Lord will enable me to do this. I think Mopsey & Rufus would have no problem with a long trip - Mopsey likes to sit in the front seat and Rufus stretches his 127 pounds out in the back. Now, if I can get them to drive, the trip will be a piece of cake. Can you imagine if they drove? We'd go to Dunkin' Donuts, or Burger King, or something. That would be a funny essay: If dogs drove; of course these two Old English Sheepdogs are drovers, but I guess not drivers ... What's in a word?
Tom & Huckleberry got here first, after George the Cat who died near 20 years old. He was the Original Mopsey's companion who I got to keep Mopsey company during the first divorce. Not going to get into all the details about cats, but these two got here before Mopsey. After George we wanted to get another cat and went to the animal shelter in Glen Cove. The only kittens they had were these two, and they were both sick; had conjunctivitis, respiratory infections and just looked so pathetic it was hard to not take them, so we did.
Later, when Mopsey arrived it was Huckleberry who first noticed her. He came in the car door, saw Mopsey, actually started to rub against her, and then jumped about two feet in the air when he realized it was not Tom, but was a dog. That was pretty funny. Mopsey was uber-cute when she was a puppy, and it sad how the ex went from spending every minute with Mopsey to wishing she was not here later on. I do not want to get into that, but it changed Mopsey and accounts for her periods of unhappiness. Not unlike how the first Mopsey was when that piece of work took off. Spent hours watching the street, thinking she was coming back. Now Mopsey is finally getting over standing there, looking up the street, but the sadness still shows.
When Mopsey first came home she was upset and she whimpered at night had to have a lot of attention to make her comfortable. When Rufus got here he took a look around and was as comfortable as could be from the beginning. I picked him up with Mopsey, and Mop took a look at Rufus and tried to walk the other way. From the beginning, Rufus seemed to know he was the top dog. He has always been a delight and is as gentle as he is big, and he weighs 127 pounds. He did not suffer the separation from the ex because she never took a liking to Rufus, and wanted no part of him. Rufus misses Katie more because he just about grew up with her. They would play together on the floor, and share each others toys. It was nice until the matrimonial lawyers screwed it all up. Well, it is better it is done. But that is blog material, not for here. Rufus and Mopsey would have been a great breeding pair, but of course they were neutered - what a nasty word: Neutered. Oh well, who has time and resources to take care of litter? Besides it is so hard to part with any of them, as became apparent when the first wife and I had Elsa's puppies, back in '76 or so. After we sold Mopsey, I actually had to drive up to near Buffalo in a snow storm to get her back because the first wife was melting down without her. Glad I got her back anyway, she helped me through some hard times, just as her namesake and Rufus are now. Sheepies are the best people there are, period.
It got hot! Well, so be that. I have some remarkably boring videos of
Mopsey and Rufus drinking at the water fountain. They now go right up to it.
stand up on it and wait for me to push the button. This image is linked to
these videos. Rufus is, in this photo, in the midst of jumping - not the right word - standing up at the fountain. I am surprised my little camera managed to capture this so well.
We are aware the general public frowns on dogs drinking out of their fountains; I always drink after they do so that I can get my infinitely broader nastiness into the fountain, instead of the dogs. I guess if the people who complain about the dogs using the fountain would complain about the semi-homeless creatures who wash their feet and entire bodies in the fountains. Well, I could generally not care less what these people think.
This other photo links to a video of Rufus and Mopsey playing. Mopsey gets fed up with Rufus, yaps at him, gets up to walk away and Rufus does this great roll-over as Mopsey is leaving. This video makes me laugh. They are playing that mock-fighting "I kill you and eat you!" kind of thing. Have to admit, Rufus is pretty scary when he bares his teeth, looks like a medium sized bear.
(As a note, encoding these videos took no time at all, but they did get the computer to use more than the 11% of processor that was the maximum until now. It actually touched 80%, but generally stayed at around 67%. Powerful machine.)
Today, as we were leaving the park, I noticed something on the ground that looked like a rock. Turns out it was a big box turtle. It was about a furlong away from the nearest water, although it had that green scum on its shell and was still wet. Somebody must have picked it up and put it by the trees, as there is no way a turtle is going to walk that far on a hot day and not dry out. Some miserable bastard animal torturer did this. Well, the turtle seemed unharmed so I put it in one of the bags I use to pick up the dogs' poop and carried it to the tributary off the lake by the Boathouse and put it in the water.
Also worth noting, which you can see if you click the turtle picture, is that the swans have had their offspring, whatever you call the offspring of those mean sons'a mitches. This couple seemed to have four of them. The water looks like green crud because that is what it is, or at least that is the surface of it, which you can see on the turtle's shell. Could not remember the word, "marooned," which is what some mean spirited bastard did to this turtle. Not that I have a love for turtles; I do not, and I think they are smelly unengaging creatures; however, dull as they are they do not deserve to be marooned in the hot sun. We done did our duty to the critters. Here is a follow-up to Operation Turtle: two days after, being yesterday, as I was leaving the Park, one of the Gomers on his way into the park said, "Look at the size of that turtle!" I do think it might have been the same turtle that I "rescued." It was the same size, but this time it was easily twice as far from water as the first time. About one-third of the way to the Prospect Park Southwest entrance. I probably would have taken it back, but I was just so blasted hot and tired, as were the dogs. I asked Gomer if he would take the turtle to the water, but he just laughed - something I have noticed this Gomer does when he does not understand something. Not as a rationalization, but I do honestly think this turtle knew where he (she?) was going. Turtle on a mission. Well, I did my thing, turtle was for sure going somewhere.
Mop & Ruf got their short haircuts from Marion at Dog's World. Marion's groomer, Dario, has the right stuff when it comes to grooming the sheepies. Since they are never afraid of him, I know that he handles them well, too.
HOT! Nothing of any note is happening other than this heat wave continues. Mopsey & Rufus are very inactive even in the park and prefer to rest in the shad of the big beech tree by the doggy water fountain. I will have to take some photos of that tree, as its root structure is such that the roots make the ground surrounding the tree to be of wood. Particularly nice is a large burl in one of the roots that gives me a comfortable seat beneath the tree and next to the water fountain. It is a wonder that nobody has done some mischief to the wonderful old tree yet.
We went for a walk into the thicket near the Neathermead and surveyed the pond of water that truly looks to be a very level field; although anybody dumb enough to embark on a walk across that flat field will get very wet. The pond scum is so thick that small branches and leaves just lay on the surface making it appear to be solid ground. Remarkable.
However, that being said, after a day of very heavy rains in NYC, the Nethermead developed what can only be called the Netherpuddle, or maybe Netherpond. Which is (probably "was" after a day or so, too bad) a very large rain puddle. Now dogs being like kids who never grow up, there was some intense playing going on in the Netherpuddle. Mop and Ruf made a new friend of a Rhodesian Ridge Back,and they really surprised me with how much they enjoyed playing in the water. Of course, that makes me feel guilty that I do not have a pool for them, but what did you expect from me? After a while I realized I had the iPhone5 with me (really do not like that thing) and I took some videos. I put them together in a Silverlight video that is linked to the following photo. It is a fun video.
Here is essentially what happened:
On 26 November 2014 at about 1630 (4:30PM) I called Mopsey and Rufus into the kitchen to give them a treat. They both came trotting in, I gave them their treats and as usual Rufus took off for the living room and Mopsey started off also. Just as she turned out of the kitchen I heard her fall down.
I was not very surprised at this as her rear end is getting a little weak; however, when I helped her up I saw that her right leg, from the end of her hock down (equivalent to our heel) was hanging loose. I will never forget what I felt at that moment. I looked at this and knew it was likely the beginning of the end. I just looked at it for some time, then called the vet we used. It was 1630 on the eve of Thanksgiving and they were closing up, the vet's office suggested I take her to one of the emergency vets. I had no idea who was an emergency vet, the last time I had call to use one was when my cat Martha had to be put down in 1992, and they were all the way over in Bay Ridge.
Now Mopsey weighs in around 85 pounds and I used to be able to lift and carry her, but I cannot anymore. I called John and Connie and they came right over.
Connie had had good experience with the VERG emergency vets, so we called them and went there. Their diagnosis was that Mopsey had osteosarcoma, and that it was only a matter of days until the disease went to her lungs and she succumbed. I was a little numb, and they had put Mop into a splint and gave me prescriptions for pain relief and an anti-inflammatory drug. I will never forget how Mopsey was when they finally wheeled her out, about three hours after we got there. She was sitting on top of a gurney and she whined so with joy when she saw us with Rufus. (I do not think I have ever heard her whine like that.) She nearly jumped off the gurney in her haste to get into the car.
Well, we all got home and I gave Mopsey the recommended medicine. She ultimately hacked up the Tramadol (pain reliever), and did so each time I tried to give it to her. After the weekend I took her to the regular vet, and he also said it was osteosarcoma, but he thought we should have a consult with his oncologist who was certified and was in Brooklyn Heights.
I honestly think it was the idea of finding a place to park in Brooklyn Heights that caused me to say, "I think I will take her to the Animal Medical Center." The vet said, "No. Please do not take her to the Animal Medical Center." It would not be until we went to the AMC that I realized why he had said that. I did call the Animal Medical Center (AMC), the next day. I explained to the woman who answered what had happened and she told me that I needed to see Dr. Rob Hart, and we had an appointment the next day.
I took her and the CD of her radiographs in with us. Dr. Hart's card says that he is Director of the Center for Excellence in Orthopedics and Hip Replacement, you are not going to get any better than that. After about an hour, Rufus and I went in and Dr. Hart told me, "Your dog has me baffled." How so I asked. He told us, "I am certain she has osteosarcoma, but she is either the most stoic dog I have ever met, or she is not in pain, and osteosarcoma is a very painful disease. Also, with this kind of cancer her leg should not be healing, but her leg has already begun to mend the fracture." It was about then that someone came up with the name (coined the phrase), "The Miracle Kid" when talking about Mopsey. I asked Dr. Hart what treatment we should pursue, and it was clear that this was a rare event.
He had said that he could amputate her leg, and she might get six months more from that, but that amputation is to relieve the pain, and of course, she was not in pain. So ultimately he recommended we see Dr. Leilani Alvarez of the physical Rehabilitation and Alternative Therapy Center. I was unaware then that Dr. Hart had called Dr. Alvarez in for a consult at that time. She told me later that she, Dr. Hart, and I think an oncologist had all palpated Mopsey's leg to try to get a pain reaction, and that she was truly not in pain.
Dr. Hart told me that she would be walking with her right foot turned out as the original vets did not set the leg properly. That was when I began kicking myself to not have gone directly to the AMC when the fracture had first ocurred. I was beating myself up with that until just recently: I had told Dr.Alvarez about how I felt and she told me, "Let me play Devil's Advocate here. If you did come in here at about five or five-thirty on the eve of Thanksgiving, I am not sure that someone might not have suggested amputation or euthanasia." Well, Dr. Alvarez made sense and she is as good for me as she is for Mop.
Mopsey continues being treated by Dr. Alvarez, who is a certified veterinary acupuncturist among other certifications, and her treatment of Mopsey has been just unbelievable. It might normally be difficult to determine if acupuncture is effective in a dog, who cannot tell you if it is working. I purchased a 12 session course of treatment and after the first six we had a two week hiatus. It was crystal clear that Mopsey's energy had decreased in that two week period and that was proof enough for me. After the treatment continued Mop returned to being energetic and active with her friends (2 & 4 legged) in dog park.
I had asked Dr. Alvarez if we should get another set of X-rays, as it had been about a month since she was X-rayed, and Dr. Alvarez agreed and so she did. I was a bit apprehensive waiting with Rufus, trying to let my faith dispel the anxiety, but I guess I am not that good a Christian. Faith won the day, however, for when Dr. Alvarez came back her smile could have lit up the waiting room. It was the best news - her leg has continued to heal, the bone is thickening, her lungs are clear, and the cancer is encapsulated by bone that she grew. Dr. Alvarez said that in all her years of practice she has never seen this. She told me the radiologist, who has been in practice for over twenty years, had told her that he could not say he had never seen this, as he thought he might have once seen what he called Spontaneous Remission, but that this was indeed rare. My oldest friend Dan, who is a UPenn VMD told me it was nothing short of miraculous that Mopsey was healing with this disease.
Just recounting this information is tiring - this has been a very emotional time. It has been of considerable expense too; however, Mopsey timed this pretty well. I had just refinanced the mortgage and got a month with no payment and a significant tax refund would be on the way, still, it might have been nice to have been able to keep a little more than we have, but that is another story.
We have gotten about 55% reimbursed by the good folks at ASPCA pet insurance. I had mentioned that to the clerk when I was paying a bill, and some woman said, "Oh, my plan pays 80%." So, of course I had to see why she was getting so much more than me. My research proved that our plan also pays 80%, but that is 80% of their approved prices which are no doubt based on veterinary fees in Peoria, about 80 years ago. With NYC fees, it works out to about 55-60%, which, as they say, "Aint hay."
I will put some photos here of her radiographs and so forth.
Well, not only had her leg not been set right, but the splint they put her in was giving her wounds on her leg and foot. Dr. Alvarez ultimately did a mold of Mopsey's leg and sent that off to OrthoPets in Colorado and they made a custom fitted orthotic for Mopsey. It was their first of this kind too, so the Miracle Kid keeps things new. That orthotic device is a wonder. It allows her leg to be braced and supported while still putting some weight on it which has helped the bone growing process. As Dr. Alvarez said, "We have managed to do everything right." This photo here is of Mopsey when we were back from from the first emergency vets and she is wearing the splint that was not quite the right thing. The photo has links to the radiology.
In all truth, I do not doubt that this is one of those miracles that proves the Lord's love for us and for our critters. I am not going to get too much more into the faith aspects of this, but that I will address on the Faith Blog, which is linked above.
Just a brief update here. In the interim, from the above, I was hospitalized at MSKCC for nearly a month in mid-summer with pneumonia. (They actually took 6.5 liters out of my left lung, what a mess.)
During the near month that I was hospitalized, my dear neighbor Espo and Pastor Omar came by daily to care for and feed Mopsey and Rufus. (Pastor Omar did not tell me he was bringing them bacon cheesburgers every day.) Pastor and Joe did not want me to get upset while hospitalized, so they did not tell me that Rufus, who is very emotional, had given himself a 6 inch hotspot on his right flank, and that Mopsey's tumor had started to enlarge.
Things started getting better when I got home, now, nearly five months later, Ruffie's coat is recovered, and Mop's labs are excellent. The tumor size increase has not reversed, and I modified her orthotic so she can still wear it to go to the park and she has been able to trot and run a bit in it. Mop will be 12 on 05 May, and she has not shown any signs that she will not get to that birthday and, I pray, more after.
She is a real soldier, just a total fighter who will not give in to this awful disease. (Mopsey is as gentle as Rufus, so my reference to a fighter is against cancer.)
There are days when she's not feeling so well and I begin to think about the inevitable as being closer, which is very upsetting. Then, the next day she is surprises me with her energy. The acupuncture treatments are so beneficial for her at these times when she has a drop in her apparent energy; we so are very thankful that we finally got to the Animal Medical Center, the place is wonderful, from the first person we see in the parking lot to all the staff.
Dr. Alvarez though radiation might benefit Mop so she has had radiation therapy with Dr. St. Vincent and Dr. Joe Jacovino, which certainly seemed to help limit Mopsey's pain. Most of the staff on the 8th floor has come to know Mop and Ruf, it makes me see that so much of the good medicine is in the good people at AMC, how true that is. Rufus's doctor, Dr. Jessica Wallach, has been such a great help in getting his coat and ear problems under control.
I am just a real fan of AMC, and so are Mopsey and Rufus. A great place.
Talking to sister Peggy in church today, I said I think I know why dogs have such short lives; It is because God is jealous of how much we love them. But of course, they are His handiwork, so I guess He loves them too.
I've been told that this looks like a picture taken in heaven; maybe it's prescient?
Mopsey went on ahead of us today at the Animal Medical Center at
Pastor Omar met us there, and he read Psalm 103:1-5, in addition to leading us in a prayer of thanks for having had time with Mopsey. It was very moving. Dr. Alvarez is so attached to Mop that afterwards we hugged each other and we both cried, as well as her assistant, Abbie. It was very moving. Rufus was there, and he looked Mopsey over after it was done. There is a great emptiness in our lives now, but there is also a great sense of relief that Mop is no longer suffering pain and the indignity of all that goes along with this debilitating disease.
Dr. Alvarez explained every step of the procedure and we did it and when it was done there was a feeling of loss but also of peace. Mopsey was such a little trooper, all the way to the end, and to be honest, I think she also was in favor of today's procedure.
I have enclosed some photos of today, I included a picture of the tumor and the wound that I have been dressing for weeks. It shows, I guess, how ugly a disease cancer is. It is not a nice picture and maybe I should have not included it, but this is what my little girl was fighting. We did not rush this decision, nor did we let it go on too long. Mopsey declined in the past week, and now she is finished with the pain of it.
We believe very strongly that she is in a much better place now, and look forward to joining her there in time to come. For now, Rufus is taking this very well, and together he and I will move ahead, and will one day be together with Mop and all the others we have loved.
Thanks for all your support and help.
On Thursday, 28 January, under the most excellent care of Dr. Leilani
Alvarez, assisted by Abbie, and in the presence of Rufus, and our beloved
Pastor, Reverend Omar Isaac Ortiz of
Trinity Lutheran Church,
who read Psalm
103:1-5, said a short prayer, and our beloved Mopsey left the pain,
suffering and indignity in this world.
It was quite a sudden and severe decline in her health. Just Monday she had started refusing her food, then the tumor which had already ruptured, and was bleeding began to enlarge, and she just told me, in her own way, "I do not want to fight this anymore, I am tired."
I saw the website "https://AMCSavesMopsey.com" and I feel I must send this correction to you. Towards the end of the site, second to last paragraph, is the statement that Mopsey will more years. I only wish it was so.
What AMC did is to have given Mopsey fourteen more months of very good quality time with her loving brother, Rufus, and with me. That is what to celebrate, that with this disease that should have taken her in days, our little girl fought it off for fourteen months, supported by the wonderful resources of the Animal Medical Center. Fourteen months is a very good extension of life especially when it is an extension of quality time for an older dog. (Had Mopsey been younger, I am sure it would have been many years.)
I thank you for featuring Mopsey, and her message of hope and courage. I think it is very worthwhile, and now Mopsey continues to be an exemplar of sheepdog tending and caring in that she will help the doctors and students at AMC to understand a little better this insidious disease that took her from us.
Mopsey went on home to the Lord on 28 January 2016 at the Animal Medical Center of New York at around 1515 (3:15PM). This picture was taken the evening before: she is my beautiful girl, and always will be.
Dr. Leilani Alvarez, who has been treating Mop for nearly 14 months presided over the last treatment. Reverend Omar Isaac Ortiz, our Pastor, was there too. We read a Psalm, had a short prayer and witnessed Mopsey being relieved of the pain and indignity that comes with cancer. The "Miracle Kid" went for 14 pretty good months when it was expected she would last at most two or three weeks. Just this past week, starting on Monday 25 Jan, she began showing signs of rapid decline; she refused her food, cried with pain when I lifted her onto her feet, and had episodes of incontinence and significant bleeding from the tumor. Prior to this week she was able to get around better. In the early days of the disease, when she had first gotten her orthotic device from OrthoPets in Colorado, she was running with Rufus and even jumping over logs, the link here was taken just six weeks before the end. But then her leg had atrophied to the point that I could feel the head of the femur, which I had originally thought was either dislocated or a tumor, but she had just gone so atrophied in that limb, Dr. Alvarez said, that you could feel every bone.
There is some irony that the month that the Animal Medical Center chose to make Mop the subject of the monthly newsletter is the month she tired of the fight. There is a link to the newsletter below, as well as a link in the photo, above.
Dr. Alvarez, her own eyes red from crying, asked me, "If Mopsey could talk, what would she say?" I told her, "I am tired of fighting." That about says it all. Rufus and I will try to fill the emptiness in one anothers' lives, and we will move ahead.
We have been most highly blessed to have the best veterinary care from Dr. Alvarez and all the others at the Animal Medical Center, and to have our beloved friend and Pastor, Reverend Omar Isaac Ortiz of our home Lutheran Church, Trinity, who has more than once asked the Church Family to pray for Mopsey and Rufus, who, with my neighbor re of Mop and Ruf when I was hospitalized last summer. My dear friend, Nancy Hotz who is the breeder of Mopsey and Rufus, down in Missouri, has ever been there with the most beautiful supporting words when needed. Now it is for Rufus and me to move ahead, never forgetting our little girl, rather knowing that she is with us in spirit. I just keep looking into her eyes in this picture, as Nancy said, She hadn't lost her sparkle. Her front end was full of life, her back, full of cancer ... but oh, those eyes. This photo catches a little something of them.