For the love of Rex

Rex is my brother’s dog; an 8 year old Rhodesian ridgeback, and a beautiful specimen of the breed.  He is as big as, if not bigger than, any Great Dane, but pure muscle.  Always the alpha male, particularly when it came to his sister, Mia; but, Rex is a lover, not a fighter.  He definitely let his size be known if another dog tried to claim alpha-male status, but anything more I think was out of character for him, maybe simply because his muscular stature was enough.  It has been said that another dog challenged him at doggy day care long ago.  Rex took up a proud stance and let out a giant woof, which was enough to silence the other dog for good.

My brother used to take him to rattlesnake training.  Rex just stood behind my brother the whole time.  He didn’t want anything to do with the snakes.  Unlike my dogs, which would probably be all over them, wondering what they were.  How could they play with or kill these snakes?  I’m sure Rex would still hunt lions though!

Every single time I came to visit, without fail, Rex would be at my driver’s side door waiting for me to get out of the car, always with uncontrollable excitement.  My brother trained Rex diligently, and for the most part, had him well-controlled.  He was very careful to make sure Rex stayed in line with guests.  Rex had a special love for me though, and I for him.  I think because after my nephew was born, I never faltered in giving Rex the attention he still needed and deserved.  My brother was especially careful where Rex was concerned when I was going through treatment and with my surgeries.  But I loved Rex’s limitless love for me.  Nothing can compare to the love a dog gives.

After my nephew and sister-in-law, Rex is my brother’s pride and joy.  My sister-in-law would say, “You know that’s his boy.”  Rex would sit with my brother on his deck while he drank his coffee in the morning.  He and Mia were my brother’s running partners and the dogs often spent time with the family on their wake-boarding boat.

About six months ago, Rex was diagnosed with cancer; a form of melanoma that was found in his dewclaw.  The dewclaw and cancer were removed and my brother and sister-in-law decided they would do everything they could for him, aside from chemo and further surgeries, which they felt would diminish his quality of life.

My brother does not show his emotions, but when Rex was first diagnosed, he told me about it over the phone.  He couldn’t say much and began to choke up.  That was truly testament to his love for Rex.

This past Christmas, only a month ago, I gifted faux snowballs to my nephew and we all had a nice snowball fight, which Rex loved being a part of.  Within a week a two after, the cancer had spread to his mouth.  I went to visit him this past Friday night, knowing it would be the last time I’d spend with him.

Again, even though he hadn’t eaten in a week, true to form, one last time he came and met me at my driver’s side door.  He wouldn’t walk on the grass though, only the driveway.  I know he was glad to see me, but the excited Rex I knew was gone.  However, he still managed to wag his tail from time to time throughout our visit. 

The now huge, cancerous tumor bulged from inside his mouth and gave a very distinct and pungent smell of dead tissue.  It stayed with me for days after our visit.  It’s something you never forget.

I laid with Rex in my brother’s living room with his head gently resting on my lap.  I remembered eight years earlier sitting in the same spot and laying his sleeping body over my lap when he was just a small puppy, about the size his head is now.

I stayed and had dinner with my brother, sister-in-law and nephew.  When it came time to leave, I kissed and hugged Rex several times, knowing it was for the last time.  He walked outside to the drive with my brother, as he always did to see me off.  I intentionally backed out of my brother’s long, winding driveway so I could see Rex in my headlights as I left.  He walked halfway up the drive as if not wanting me to leave.  I cried the entire way home.

I love you, Rex!  Thanks for loving me too!


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Last of the AC and the dead armadillo

Today is my last treatment of Adriamycin + Cytoxan.  Yay!  I have another excellent nurse, Pat.  However, it’s been super busy today at TxOnc so I’ve been here most of the day (since 9:30a and it’s now almost 2:00p.  Still have another hour at least).  Will likely go home and crash from here.  I’ll return in two weeks to start 12 weeks of Taxol.

In other news, I found a dead armadillo in my backyard this morning.  Had my dogs killed it?  Had they been playing with its dead carcass?  Did they eat any of it?  It was way to gross to examine more thoroughly, the flies were swarming and it had such a non-lovely smell to boot.  I tossed it over the fence with a shovel, but it was still kinda freaking me out so I called my vet’s office.  They said they didn’t think I had anything to worry about.  Rabbies?  Leprosy?  No.  If my dogs killed it, it was probably a good thing.  They said it likely dug under the fence somewhere and that an armadillo will tear up your yard.  Not that my dogs hadn’t already done a good job of that.  They said my pups should be fine.  Oh good, so they won’t turn into killer, zombie dogs?  What a relief! :-)

Come to think of it, the other night both Mo and Greta came in a little worse for wear.  Greta with scrapes above and below her right eye and Mo with a small, bloody spot on his side.  Oh, right.  Yes, I’m having a flashing lightbulb over head moment.  I thought maybe they had just played too rough.

Now it all makes sense.  My beasts are sweethearts, but I wouldn’t put killing an armadillo past them.  One day I came home and Mo was playing with a dead squirrel.  Another time Greta tried to tear the gutter drain off the side of the house to get to a trapped squirrel.  She succeeded but the squirrel got away.

They love to torment the squirrels.  The squirrels probably torment them too–Devious, little suckers.  One squirrel got stuck on the very tip top of one of my cedar trees screaming its head off until I called them to come inside.  Guess that squirrel’s plan backfired.  Greta was already half way up the tree.

Another time they killed a harmless tarantula.  I tried to stop them but it was too late.  I gently picked it up and the poor thing was still twitching, and then it died.


So when I got home at 4:00 am from partying with my girlfriends, I found Highway was hanging out on my roof.  Pictures attached from later this morning. Decided to let the little guy have some down time on the inside today.

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TGIF, and a better day at that.  I’m feeling physically, mentally and emotionally better than the past few days.  Any sick feeling has subsided.  Just as with the actual storms we’ve had this week, the clouds have lifted.  Looking forward to a night out with some of my girlfriends.  We’re going to see New Order tonight at the Austin Music Hall (yes, we’re kickin’ it old school).

And in other news, sometime last week on a sleepless night around 3:00 am I decided to drive to Marble Falls to venture around the local Wal-mart (which is virtually the only thing open at the time of morning).  Yeah, never got there.   I’m driving down a dark stretch of Hwy 71 toward the Hwy 281 turn when I spot a small, orange kitten bouncing between the grass and weeds at the edge of the road.  So, me being the good samaritan I am, I turned around and stopped to rescue the little guy (appeared to be around 6-9 weeks old, starved, thirsty and had obviously been dumped).  At first, the little thing darts out at me so happy to see someone to help.  But she was quickly scared by a passing car and jumped into some brush behind barbwired fencing.  Mind you it’s pitch black on this rural, Texas highway.  Nothing around but ranch land.  It took me a good 30 mins to an hour to coax the scared, little thing out.  Each time I got close to it another car would pass and scare her back into the brush.  Eventually, after much meowing by the both of us, I captured her.  It took another 30 mins just to coax her out of the car with some canned tuna.  

Anyway, for days now I’ve had this damned kitten running around my house wreaking havoc.  I swore to myself no more cats after my beloved Picasso died last year.  I am perfectly happy with my two pups, Mo and Greta.  Last night it came to a head when she broke a very nice vase of mine while she was running and jumping and playing.  That was the last straw.  So out she went.  I put food and water out for her.   Aside from my neighbor’s dog running her up a tree last night (and that is where she spent the entire night), I think she likes it outside.  I was compassionate enough to check on her throughout the night.  She was playing around on my front porch this morning except for the time she spent under my car, making me late to work.  Hope she is still around when I get home tonight.  

I did try several rescue groups but all are full up on cats and kittens.  Unless anyone out there wants a cat–???   And maybe I’ve grown a little fond of the tiny, orange tabby, but I’m not willing to give up my home to a cat again.  This is a sink or swim world!  If she sticks around and doesn’t get eaten by a snake or something, she’ll have to be an outside cat!  I’ve named her “Highway.”  Seemed appropriate.