Sunday, September 23, 2012

It's 3:25 AM....

...and I'm sitting here typing. 

These last few weeks have been so...fucking horrible.

Last Friday we got the results back from the oncologist about my dad. 

His prostate cancer has returned, except it has mutated into a rare and aggressive form that is attacking the liver and lymph nodes.

I love the oncologist - I do.  I find him to be extremely responsive.  But I also find that he's also very...matter of fact.  Which, I'm sure in his line of work he needs to be.  So he said we had two options..

We could start chemo or we could choose no treatment.

The reality is, there is no cure for cancer.

Only a treatment that, most likely, will have to be administered for the rest of his life - however long that may be. 

Friday we got the news, his first treatment was scheduled for Tuesday.  Not a lot of time to digest or process. 

Oh.  And in the middle of all of this, was my birthday.

I'll just shorten it to say this was, quite possibly, the worst birthday I've had yet - putting aside the birthday that came around post 9/11 in 2001.

So his first treatment went insanely horrible.

He was a complete corpse by the time he got home - after 9 hours at the hospital getting chemo, blood tests, CT scans.  He had to be physically carried into the house and up the stairs.

His words were so slurred, we had no idea what he was saying.

The only bright side was that he wasn't incredibly sick - no vomiting or anything like that.

He's just now coming back around - in time for his second dose on Tuesday. 

I spent the first few days bawling in bed.  I feel like...he's been through so much, that him getting so sick now is so unfair.  Every step forward he takes...he gets knocked five steps back.  And after that I got into Go Mode - and it's been Go Mode ever since.  Truthfully, I've been in Go Mode since 2009 when he first got sick.    

My heart is breaking every day.  He's so frail now.  My Superman can barely walk.  And every time I look at him, I know deep down that there is a very real chance that he will not survive this treatment or this sickness.

The doctor doesn't give a time frame for his life - they're doctors, not God.  But I guess..he didn't walk in a say "he's got three months to live, there's nothing we can do."  He said it was treatable and it will help to ease the pain he's in.  I am thankful for those "silver linings".

The first cycle is supposed to be about four weeks of treatment - and depending on how the cancer responds, the next course of action will be decided.

My mom's a wreck.  She cries all the time.  I can't imagine losing the person you've loved for almost 50 years.  Watching them slowly disappear right before your eyes.  The day the doctor told us everything, after he left the room, my mom hugged my dad and cried.  He has short-term memory loss, so for the most part he has no idea what's wrong with him.  But as always, he hugged her back and told her not to worry - everything would be fine and he was going to beat this.  That made me cry.  Because for the first time in weeks, he sounded like my dad; reassuring and loving - but he didn't know enough to be scared for himself.  What he said to her was completely reflex and habit.  

So it's now almost 4 in the morning...and I'm up.  And after writing all of this, I'm crying.  Mostly for selfish reasons.  Because I don't know if my dad is strong enough to survive the chemo and to fight the cancer.  He's 72.  He takes so much's mind blowing.  He was supposed to die three years ago at the kitchen table.  But for some reason he didn't, and he has suffered every day since.  I know if he knew better he'd be miserable the way he is - because this isn't living anymore.  And yet, I still can't come to terms with losing him or letting him go. 

I thought writing this might be cathartic for me....but it's not.  It's hard.  And it hurts.  And sometimes it hurts so much that I can't breathe because he's dying and I can't stop it.  I can't fight it for him, and I can't do anything but be helpless.  And that fucking KILLS me.

Now I'm tired and maybe I'll lay down for a little.  But before I's something for you to share.


Monday, September 10, 2012

The Puppy Mill Cover-Up

What is a puppy mill?  According to Wikipedia, a puppy mill, sometimes known as a puppy farm, is a commercial dog breeding facility that is operated with an emphasis upon profits above animal welfare and is often in substandard conditions regarding the well-being of dogs in their care. 

Translation?  It's where they force dogs to reproduce - without caring about their health or safety.

The American and Westminster kennel clubs state that responsible breeders raise their animals with the intent to produce healthy dogs, and to ensure that all animals are provided responsible homes and socialization.  
In puppy mills, females are sometimes bred every time they are in heat to increase profits, resulting in gradually decreasing sizes of litters.  As puppies, mill dogs are also often weaned from their mothers well before the eight to ten weeks recommended.

Bark Rescue in Belleview, IL also explains, “Puppies are taken from their mother when they are 5 to 6 weeks old and sold to brokers who pack them in crates for resale to pet stores all over the country.” Only half of the puppies survive during this exhausting travel only to make it to the pet shop until they are sold.   Dogs in puppy mills are often bred indiscriminately. While the puppies produced may come with pedigrees, the pedigree itself is neither an indication of quality nor authenticity.

But here's the thing - a responsible person might go to a pet store and try to ask questions.  Because truthfully, no dog lover would want to knowingly buy from a Puppy Mill, right?  But just because you ask the right questions, doesn't mean you're going to get truthful answers.  Here's "Pet Store Double Speak" as provided by the Humane Society, so you can recognize the half-truths when you hear them:

Pet stores say: "Our puppies come from breeders, not puppy mills."

The word breeder is not an exclusive term. Anyone who puts two dogs together and produces puppies is, technically, a breeder.  Truly responsible breeders do not sell their puppies to pet stores, they want to meet their puppy buyers in person and do not sell their puppies to the first person who shows up with cash in hand. Most breed club's Code of Ethics state that their breeders refuse to sell their dogs to pet dealers or any other commercial sources of distribution.

"All of our puppies come from USDA-inspected facilities, so we know they are not from puppy mills."

Being USDA or government inspected does not mean that the business is not a puppy mill, any more than having a driver's license guarantees that the holder is a good driver. Unfortunately, most USDA-licensed breeders house dozens or even hundreds of breeding dogs in small wire cages for their entire lives—and sadly, this is legal under current USDA regulations, which require only minimal standards of food, water and shelter. But many USDA facilities have been found in violation of even these minimal standards. It is extremely rare for the USDA to revoke a commercial breeder's license or even fine a puppy mill that has repeated violations. There are hundreds of USDA-licensed puppy mills in operation that have long lists of violations and problems associated with them and yet regularly sell to pet stores.

"We know our breeders are not puppy mills because we only deal with breeders we know."

If a pet store manager tells you this, ask to see documentation that shows exactly where their suppliers are located. In most cases, you will find out that the breeders they "know" are in distant states. The store manager's definition of "knowing" a breeder often just means they have been receiving shipments of puppies from the same place repeatedly. In most cases, the owner or manager has never visited the breeder's facility or inspected their records. Our investigations have revealed that even when store staff claim they inspect their facilities or hand-pick their puppies, often it is not true.

"We don't sell puppies from local breeders because our state is not regulated, but (the state the puppies come from) is."

Commercial breeders in all states who sell wholesale to pet stores are required to be regulated by the USDA. Some states (such as Missouri and Pennsylvania) also require a state kennel license and state inspections. This does not mean that puppies from Missouri or Pennsylvania are healthier. In fact, these states have two of the worst concentrations of puppy mills in the United States.

"Our store's puppies are healthy—they come with a health certificate from a licensed veterinarian."

A health certificate is not a bonus but is required for any puppy sold commercially across state lines. It only means that the puppy has had a very brief "wellness" check by a veterinarian. This examination does not include testing the puppy or his or her parents for genetic disorders, parasites, or testing for diseases such as Giardia and Brucellosis, both of which are contagious to humans and are frequently seen in puppy mill puppies.

"Our puppies come with a health guarantee."

Read health guarantees very carefully. They are often designed to protect the store's interests more than yours. They can be full of exclusions and loopholes, and often require you to return a sick puppy to the store in order to get a refund. The store management will often use the puppy's health certificate as proof that the animal was healthy when he or she left the store, leaving the buyer helpless if the puppy becomes sick just a few hours or days after purchase.

"Consumers know our puppies are from good breeders because they are registered and come with papers."

Purebred registration papers (from one of many kennel clubs or other dog registries) are only a record of a puppy's parents (and sometimes earlier generations). Puppy mills routinely sell puppies with papers from prestigious sounding kennel clubs. Registration papers do nothing to ensure that an individual puppy (or his or her parents) is healthy or free of genetic defects, or that they were raised in a humane and clean environment.

"We know this is a good breeder. We've never had a problem with any of their puppies."

Keep in mind that even facilities with mostly healthy puppies and problem-free inspection reports may be keeping dozens or even hundreds of breeding dogs in cages for their entire lives. These parent dogs live behind bars from birth until death, without ever feeling grass under their feet, enjoying a treat or toy, or having loving human contact or proper veterinary care. They are bred repeatedly until they can no longer reproduce, and then they are destroyed or discarded.

It's so hard to tell, isn't it?  Those answers SOUNDED like good answers.  But they're actually doubletalk. 

At the end of the day, in my honest opinion, the most responsible thing you could ever do is to adopt a dog.  Rescue shelters are overflowing..and puppy mills are constantly breeding.  If you don't support the puppy mill business, then they can't exist. And if you support the rescue shelters?  Well.  You're saving the life of a dog that will probably be the best friend you ever had. 

So it's win-win for everyone. 

 This Public Service Announcement was brought to you by the Concerned Bloggers Association. If you would like to become involved, please contact Marleen Vaughan for more information.

Blissie and Bear Boucher  :)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday Love

Bought a new skybox this weekend, and this little post-it came with it on the desk.

Despite the spelling error, I thought it was a great sentiment.

Spreading love and light will always be a wonderful way to live - even during the worst of times.

Happy Sunday.  Pass it on!


Saturday, September 8, 2012


First, I really want to thank everyone that has sent their love and support for my dad.  I truly appreciate it.

We were finally able to have his lymph node biopsy done yesterday morning - so we have a meeting with the oncologist scheduled for September 14th. 

He's in a lot of pain, and it's kind of to the point where he can't really walk now.  My heart is so broken.  I don't know how to help him anymore. 

So hopefully by next Friday we'll know what we're dealing with...and we can treat him - provided it's treatable.

Right now, it's a quiet Saturday with a lot of rain for the rest of the day.  So maybe I'll see you guys in world or something soon.

Love you.