Picture of the Day: My 1955 Cadillac

Here’s my first official Picture of the Day! It’s where I share a picture of something that inspires, interests, or motivates me to create something (whether I took the picture or  not). Sometimes it might just be something that makes me happy.

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I’m starting off with a shot of my 1955 Cadillac. My Doberman Ivan is in the background. I like the sleek 50s lines of the car, the chrome, the grille, everything (except the gas mileage).

Brahim’s new baby!!! Beth’s Future Baby!!

Ivan in the Leaves 2007

Congratulations go out to my good buddy Brahim ElKamel and his family (wife Holly and son Isaiah) with the coming of their daughter Amira this week.  In the interest of not posting pictures of someone else’s kid, no matter how cute she is, you will all just have to take my word for it that she is indeed cute.

Congratulations also go out to my friend Beth, as she has recently proclaimed that she is pregnant.  She is usually a prolific writer, and at this month’s Writer’s Group, she didn’t have time to work up something for us to read . . . responsibilities start early with kids.  Pesky things.

My god, but everyone I know is having kids.  I guess it’s just something people do, but it’s also an indicator that I am getting old.  Wowee.  Kids.  You guys are nuts, in my opinion, although I know you’ll enjoy every (okay not every, but many) minute of it.

I have had a few dreams about Ivan lately,  Sort of weird ones, nothing cohesive, nothing I can remember, but he is there all the same.  I keep waking up with the impression that he has just been nearby.

It Has Been A Week and a Half

 It has been a week and a half since Ivan died.  I don’t have such a huge hole in my chest now, but at times things still stop me cold: the rubber chicken laying in the yard, his empty spot on the couch, other dogs running around playing, and of course all the room my feet now have in bed.  No more foot warmer.  You get used to sleeping with a 100 pound dog, and it is weird now to sleep without him.  He was such a pain in the ass to sleep with . . . but like I said, you get used to it after nearly 6 years.  Sally, my Miniature Pinscher, immediately moved down into Ivan’s spot in the bed and has kept it pretty much every night.  Since she weighs in at a titanic 7 pounds she just sort of gets lost down there.  It’s not the same.

I haven’t been able to listen to Tom Petty this week.  It just makes me sad.  This morning it seems somehow appropriate though.

I am never sad.  Ever.  I never feel bad for some unknown reason, rarely even feel out of sorts.  So it has been unusual for me to feel that way now.  Of course it has a reason, but at times I find myself overcome with emotion–sadness, anger, a sense of utter loss, devastation.  I haven’t felt this disconnected before, not even when family members died.

I realize now, after thinking about it every day, that Ivan was more to me than another human could possibly be.  Maybe more and something different at the same time.  My wife and I are closer than anything, but she, as a human, doesn’t jump up and follow me around the house at all times, keeping an eye on me.  She doesn’t have this absolute need to always be with me, every moment of the day, to watch me.  And nor would I want her to.  She is a person with more of an independent self.  She exists apart from, yet close to, me.

Ivan, for better or worse, had become part of me, an extension of my self.  I realize now that I always knew where he was, what he was doing, always kept a close eye on him too.  I mean, if I didn’t, how would I keep him from getting up on the counter to snatch a loaf of bread or to gobble up the butter?  He was my soul beast, my goofy little brother. 

My Ivan is Dead and Gone

Today I have become less of an optimist.  My dog Ivan is dead.

It seems like only a week ago that Ivan was first diagnosed with having chronic liver disease, although it was actually a few months.  When he was first diagnosed, he weighed only 73.3 pounds.  After a few months of treatment, he made it back up to 100.7,

Last Monday he seemed healthy as ever, although that weekend we had noticed that his stomach was a little bloated–at the same time we noticed him guzzling water a gallon at a time.  We just thought  the bloating was from the water.  Little did we know.  I should have immediately taken him to the specialist veterinarian, Dr. Bostwick (here I must say that our Vet, Sara, is currently on vacation, so was unavailable).  In retrospect, no one could have done anything for Ivan, but it might have been better if we had learned how bad-off he was sooner.

So this past weekend Ivan grew hugely bloated.  He looked pregnant.  Tuesday I took him in and learned that it wasn;t water in his belly, but blood pooling up in his abdomen.  An ultrasound showed that his liver had shriveled until it was sized appropriately for a Cocker Spaniel.  The vet said it was an “end stage liver” and nothing permanent could be done, although we tried a diuretic, since that might have decreased the bloating.  The vet said he could possibly get it under control and Ivan could live a long time.  It had worked with other dogs.  It didn’t work this time.

All yesterday Ivan got worse and worse.  He started drooling blood and continued to bloat up until his usually tight little belly bulged out farther than his ribcage and felt like a hard balloon.  He grew catatonic and just lay there on the couch, not moving.

Later in the evening I brought out his Kong on a rope (his favorite toy) and enticed him into taking one last walk to the park.  Ivan got really energized and excited about it.  Melissa and I took him down to Elms Park and tossed the ball around for him for a little while.  I am really glad we got him down there in time for him to do one of his favorite things, even if he wasn’t able to do much more than slowly trot around after the Kong.

I will remember his wagging tail on that walk for the rest of my life.

He was so happy just to watch the ball go flying, even though he couldn’t really chase it like he had only a week before.  On one hand it was heartbreaking to witness such a powerful, graceful beast be reduced to hauling himself over the grass like an invalid.  But his excitement  at getting outside and running around after the Kong. . .  it makes me cry just thinking about it.  I am not ashamed to say it.

After we got home he quickly fell back into himself and started slipping away.  His breaths only came in ragged gasps and he couldn’t get comfortable no matter how he positioned himself.  He climbed into our bed and took my spot, which he has always done as fast as possible, hoping I would just let him lay there.  I was truly tempted to do so last night since I thought it was probably his last night with us.  Now I regret ever being bothered at sleeping with such a big dog.  I would sleep with him every night forever if I could just have him back.

We woke up with him at 4 in the morning, when he just got up and went to lay in the living room.  He had no energy and his gums had turned from red to a pale white-yellow (despite his bloody saliva).  We stayed with him all morning until Melissa had to go to work.  Then it was just me and the dogs.  I had to wait until the vet opened at 8:30.  I hoped against hope that the doctor could figure something out that would get the blood out of his belly and get him working again.  There was still some hope left.

Since the walk the night before had energized him for a while, I decided to take him out for one last walk with the Kong and see if he felt better.  But he had weakened too much through the night and froze to a teetering stop on the sidewalk in front of our neighbor’s house.  I coaxed him across the street to Lester Park where he stopped, sat down, then lay down in the grass.  We just sat there, Ivan and I, and took in the morning.  It took me a few minutes to get him going again.  He barely had the energy to make it into the yard and back onto the couch.

I got a 9:30 vet appointment, which gave me enough time to load him into the front seat of my brother’s truck and take him to Fort Missoula, one of his all time favorite places.  I used to take him there regularly and throw the Kong for him.  Every time we came near the place he would start whining and hopping around like an idiot.  It always made me want to kill him.  I would have given anything to have him whine even once in excitement this morning.  When I rolled down the windows and brought in the outside air, he didn’t move.  I didn’t think my heart could break any more, but it did then.

Then, just as we came up to the parking area by the historical museum, his head shot up and he started looking around.  The sunlight was bold and the skies were blue as hell.  It was perfect.  I pulled up sideways to the area we always ran through and just let him look out across my lap and into the field.  He could hardly move his head, but his eyes were perky and bright, so I parked and helped him out of the truck.  I had the Kong with me since he loved it so much, and for about 50 feet he wanted to go after it.  Then he just stopped and lay down facing the field.  We stayed there for about 8 minutes, then I had to coax him back into the truck so we could make the vet.

He rode all the way to the vet’s office with his head out the open window, resting on the door.

The vet said Ivan was bleeding in his GI tract and nothing could be done to save him.  He also took some of his blood and learned that his red blood cell count had dropped in half in one week.  If he was a human he would have been given a blood transfusion and put at the top of the liver transplant list.  They don’t do that with dogs.

So at about 10:00 the vet shot him with some pink stuff and killed him.  I felt his heart stop just about the second his eyes closed.

I can’t believe how empty my house is.  Never the same.  Never again.

Ivan is Doing Better Today

Today Ivan is doing much better.  I took him in and weighed him, picked up some more prednisone.  Sara the vet took him off the antibiotic and said we will see what happens.  So now he is only taking the prednisone, vitamin E, Chelated Zinc, and something for his liver itself.  I can’t remember what it is.  His weight last Thursday: 75.5.  His weight this past Monday:  83.3.  His weight today, Friday?  An amazing 88.8 pounds.  He actually gained 5 pounds in 4.5 days!  Come on!  But he is looking really good now, especially since in addition to eating tons of food, he is exercising a lot.  So for now at least he is doing really well.


 Ivan is doing much better these days.  His blood tests are not really any better (in fact, since he has been eating so many eggs, his chlosterol has doubled, so now heis not eating many egg yolks).  I think it’s amazing that it can increase so fast and only by eating a few dozen eggs (well, maybe 4 or 5 dozen in a few weeks).  Still, the vet says it’s no big deal, I just need to give him a lot fewer eggs.  Live and learn, I suppose.

Get Some Sleep

 On 60 minutes I saw this segment on how poor sleep quality can increase appetite, disease risk, etc.  This video doesn’t include the entire segment on the show, but it shows enough to be interesting.  One of the test subjects, after 5 days of interrupted deep sleep, had increased appetite, decreased metabolism, decreased ability to process sugar in his body, and lack of attention span.  And this kid was in his early 20’s.  So go get some good sleep, I guess.

Ivan in my backyard last fall


Also, right now I am reading Stephen King’s book On Writing which details his progression from kid to writer.  I read part of itbefore, but it got put away and I never finished it.  Now I am.

Le Petit Prince

 This article talks about how Antoine Saint-Exupery, the author of the Little Prince, was shot down back in WW2.  Reporters recently tracked down the German pilot who shot him down.  I thought it was pretty interesting.

Took Ivan in yet again this morning and had a 3rd blood test.  He is gaining weight well right now, although I have been feeding him extremely serious amounts of food.  On Saturday he had 13 eggs, a loaf of bread, 3or 4 cans of dog food, some oatmeal.  I know he had more, but now that he’s taking prednizone, he is ravenous (one of the side effects).  He is back to his old self energy-wise too, which is good.  It now takes more like 15-20 minutes of sprinting to enhaust him, rather than the 8 he could hardly do a few weeks ago.  His ribs are starting to disappear too, which is good.

He usually weighs somewhere around 95-100 pounds.  When I took him in a few weeks ago he weighed 73.5.  Last week he was up to 75.5  This morning he weighed in at 83.8.  He gained 4 pounds in less than a week!  The main problem now is that since I have been cooking for him all the time, he now thinks all kitchen food belongs to him.  Get out the peanut butter, boom, there’s Ivan.  Get out the eggs, there is he, staring at them.  Previously he didn’t expect to get it so he was interested but not to much.  Now he is awful.  The vet says it’s great that he wants to eat at all–him being ravenous is especially good news.

Writing, Ivan, and Laurell K. Hamilton

Well,  other than enjoying the fine spring-like weather we have had lately, what have I been up to?  Just finished reading Laurell k. Hamilton’s first Anita Blake novel, Guilty Pleasures  which was pretty good.  It read fast and isn’t that long (less than 300 pages).  I previously read one of the later novels in this series, but since they aren’t labeled, it’s hard to know their order without looking at opublication dates.  The serties is done in the vein of Harry Dresden, although it is older . . .  not quite as good as Dresden, but worth reading.

I have now beaten 16 songs on Expert Mode of Guitar Hero.  I still have some Hard mode ones to get past, but I don’t play it steady enough I guess.  This is probably a good thing, since you don’t really need to spend too much time playing video games, right?

I am making progress with Eddie Black.  Finished my new short story, Scavengers and sent it to the Writers Group for this Thursday or Friday.  After their feedback I will send it out and see what happens. I might hear back from Realms of Fantasy today regarding The Bargain, since it only took the Mag. of Fantasy and Science Fiction a week to reject it.  We’ll see if Realms is as quick.

Ivan is feeling better/stronger, although his most recent blood test didn’t come back with as great an improvement as the vet was hoping for.  So now we’ll see what we can do.  On to step 2, I suppose.


 Ivan seems to be feeling fine today.  No big change yet, although Sara said we shouldn’t see much change until tomorrow.  She said we should feed him eggs rather than stuff like rice and hamburger (which I was giving him), since eggs would provide balanced nutrition for him.  Since he is pretty much uninterested in eating dog food right now, we’re lucky he still wants to gobble up people food (something he usually wants anyway).

Check out this “crazy side effects of a drug” video.  It is hilarious: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nMkpMvvgY4

I better get to writing.  I have a sore throat and feel generally crappy this, but I want to finish up a short story this morning and get back to working on Unleashed: the Eddie Black Story.