Dogs, Cats and Other Phenomena

Friday, September 30, 2005

A Tribute to Cleo

Cleo was one of the Great All-Time Cats. He had led a charmed life in Belmont Shore as he made friends wherever he went. His former owners had abandoned Cleo so he then adopted my boss' neighbor. For some reason, he gave him the feminine name of Cleo.

Cleo was our company mascot, always coming over to nap or be petted, or try to bum food off of me, or sprawl all over Ericka’s desk, making it pretty difficult for her to use her computer. Even though he had a bell put on his collar, Cleo could be counted on to catch many birds – and even a rat! Ugh. He would happily bring them in to show my boss his trophies. One night, my boss woke up to a dead rat in his bedroom. Cleo had climbed in a window to show him this great prize!
Imagine my shock yesterday when I went to work and my boss told me he had some bad news. Before I even had time to react, he said, “Cleo is dead.”

He had been run over in his own driveway by the neighbor who lives over us. Cleo’s owner suspects the guy had been drunk and had pulled into his driveway very fast and very wide the night before. The guy had run over Cleo’s head! The neighbor felt bad (he liked Cleo) but couldn't quite fess up. To his credit, he talked about making a memorial in Cleo's memory on my boss's patio. That way, the neighbors who walk their dogs will know what happened to Cleo, because they'll all miss him.

Poor Ericka was the one who found Cleo. She had the presence of mind to put a towel over him. She had already gone home by the time I had gotten to work. I sat and cried for about an hour and then had to go home.

Cleo will be sorely missed. He was a terrific cat, smart and adorable. I do not relish going to work and not having him there to pet and make a fuss over. I'm glad I had taken these photos with my cell phone on September 1st. Who knew he only had weeks left to live?

The morale of this sad tale: keep your cats in the house. They will be safer and will not miss going outside, especially if they have a cat tree to climb.

Scroll down to see the rest of the Cleo photos.

Nikki Gets Cone Removed!

Nikki finally got her stitches and her cone removed yesterday, and is she one happier dog! It was too darn hot to take her on a walk - and the air quality wasn't too healthy either - so we celebrated by playing Fetch in the living room. Boy, was she happy to be let loose in the living room! She hadn't eaten her food, so I gave her her kibble each time she brought me back the ball. However, she then took it upon herself to jump on the living room chair, which is a decided no-no. At that time, I was on the phone, so I tried to drag her off the chair but she would have none of it, the little brat! Nikki can be one stubborn dog when she wants to be.
My 6-month old dog also gained 3 lbs. during the 10 days of her recovery from being spayed - she now weighs 44.7 lbs. She's getting pretty big!

I then tried to clean up the back yard so she could run around. I had 2 oleanders removed and now I'm trying to pick up the loose leaves. She still tries to pick up everything in her mouth - including little rocks - so she's a danger to herself. I borrowed a shopvac from a friend, but now it doesn't have suction ... probably clogged or full? So I ran out of time and didn't get to finish the job. I wanted to let her play in her new wading pool yesterday but that didn't work out. I'm hoping I can finish cleaning up the yard and let her play today in the pool. Tomorrow she has her training class and then she'll get groomed. She needs it, as she couldn't keep herself as neat and clean as she'd like during her convalescence.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Hurricane Rita and Lake Charles, La.

It's rather amazing that the news seems to ignore Lake Charles, La. because it only has a population of 75,000, yet this is one of the hardest-hit areas. Rita has caused much havoc. There is flooding, trees and power lines are knocked down, roads are closed and the people are not allowed back in to the city. There is also a curfew from 7pm to 6am. If it wasn't for a local news station, KPLC, no one would know anything!

If you live in Lake Charles or have family there, like I do, then here's a link that will provide much information.


Major Brown in Lake Charles said, "Lake Charles has lost electricity and water, and it will be some time before these services are restored.  Temperatures reaching the high 90s coupled with high humidity make life very unpleasant to those already in distress."

Mayor Randy Roach says there is extensive wind damage and that it is practically impossible to get through the city.  Storm surge is still a problem.  Bord du Lac Drive is flooded over onto Lakeshore Drive.  The Mayor urges people to not drive at all in the city at this time.  Buses to temporary shelters will be picking people up at the Civic Center between 2 pm and 3 pm.  Lake Charles residents should boil all water until further notice.

Also, power is not going to come back on for weeks, plus I found this quote, "We are going to err on the side of safety." They DO NOT have dates set for entrance into Calcasieu Parish.  "It is not safe to come back yet."

So, c'mon CNN and FoxNews, and all those other big stations! Let's have some coverage and photos here. Lake Charles has evacuated and these people need updates too!

Callie and Radiation Therapy

Well, we haven't started on Callie's radiation yet. Probably not until Oct. 4. But last night, I could see that the tumor has grown. Has me worried. It had grown before but I picked at it. I'm not going to do that now. I have a horrible feeling that the radiation won't work. And the problem is, it's in the nasal cavity, which makes it easier to spread.

The doctor I talked to last night, Dr. Kitchell (I believe she usually works at Michigan State University) had never seen this either. The main thing is for all 3 doctors to agree about how to do the radiation. Dr. Kitchell said she put a call in to Dr. LaRue to discuss how they'd do the radiation. But Dr. Kitchell was only at All Care for the day. Dr. Ravi S. Dhaliwal, DVM, MS (Callie's actual doctor) is a 1986 graduate of the Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana, India and is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine - Specialty of Oncology. He completed his residency in clinical oncology and MS at the University of Illinois in 1998. Dr. Dhaliwal’s special interest is in clinical oncology and hematology. Since 1995, Dr. Dhaliwal has been the Staff Oncologist for VCA All-Care Animal Referral Center. Additionally, Dr. Dhaliwal is a Clinical Oncologist for South Bay Veterinary Specialists, in San Jose, CA.

Dr. LaRue, in CO, is the big radiation specialist (with whom Dr. Dhalival consulted)- I believe she's the Program Director at CO State University. I bet this is her web page:, Found this about Dr. Kitchell. She's a high mucky-muck too, so I feel better about all this! "Dr. Barbara Kitchell, one of the nation's leading veterinary cancer experts, will join Michigan State University as director of the College of Veterinary Medicine's new Comparative Oncology Center. Kitchell's appointment, approved by the MSU Board of Trustees at its June 5 meeting, includes a tenured professorship in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. The appointment is effective July 1, 2003."

Callie may not survive this but at least she has a good team on her side!

Found this about Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy along with surgery and chemotherapy is one of the major treatment modalities for cancer in both human and veterinary patients. CSU began doing radiation therapy on pet animals in 1958 and in 1981 had the first linear accelerator dedicated to the treatment of veterinary patients installed in this room. The current machine was commissioned in 1994 and is a 6 MV Linear Accelerator with electron treatment capabilities. This allows us to treat very deep tumors as well as superficial tumors. Radiation therapy is used for the treatment of a wide variety of tumors including nasal tumors, soft tissue sarcomas of the body and extremity and mast cell tumors. This machine is also used for intraoperative radiation therapy where an animal’s tumor is exposed at surgery and then placed in front of the beam so the normal tissue can be limited from the radiation field. Radiation therapy is generally delivered in fractions each day over a 3-5 week period. Because our patients are animals we need to anesthetize them so they will not move during the treatment. Because we can not be in the room while the radiation is being administered we have two cameras in the room, one focused on the patient and one focused on the monitoring equipment. Radiation therapy is not painful and the procedure lasts only a few minutes. It is important that the patient be precisely set up each day. There are two lasers intersecting at a point in space that aids in the positioning of the patient.

I also found this webpage about a dog named Goldie. You have to read it. Great dog but many health problems! Awful. But the family swears by All Care.

Here's the cute part of the story: Goldie was an incredible animal. We received Goldie as a gift from good friends. Goldie's mother was a Great Dane and her father was a Doberman/Labrador mix. The litter was planned. Our friends wanted one litter out of the Dane because she was such a great dog so they bred her with another one of their beautiful dogs. She was taken from her litter at 3 1/2 weeks and weighing 9 pounds because there were nine fast growing puppies and the vet felt that the mother would have trouble feeding them all. Since one of us was home most of the day I was able to bring Goldie home. However, we made one important stop before going home and that was to our family vet. Another incredible source for care for Goldie had been and will be for all of our current and future pets is All-Care Animal Referral Center in Fountain Valley, California. All-Care is open 24 hours a day and provides Mayo-Clinic type of care for your pets. When your family vet is unavailable or unable to provide certain care for your pets All-Care is the place where we go and suggest the same to our family and friends.

Goldie's 'puppydom' was pretty normal if you consider the chewing, jumping, running and the house training. The best chewing story and a strong reminder to leave your laundry secure was when she decided to eat a brand new suit my husband got in Italy - thank God for American Express. We had left the dry cleaning basket at the front door ready to be taken in the next day. Goldie took the opportunity that evening, after we went to bed, to take out the brand new suit and shred it. American Express sent us a long form that needed to be filled out and reviewed before they could consider a refund. We filled out the form and decided to add a photo of our 80 pound puppy - we sent the form along with the shreds and the picture to Amex. In two days we received a phone call with laughter in the background - it was American Express. Amex wanted us to know that they just received their package and that we would be receiving a credit on our next statement (they loved the picture).

Very cute story, huh? I have an active puppy too, so I can just imagine!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Nikki and Callie

Well, I picked Nikki up today from the vet. The poor thing had to stay overnight as she was spayed yesterday. So now she wears a great big cone and careens around like a drunken sailor. I'll be dealing with my big cone-head for 10 days. Then the stitches come out.

When I went to pick her up, I commented that she'd probably be fairly quiet today but I was quickly corrected. "No, that was yesterday!" This gave me pause, I tell you. It seems that Nikki was back to her very excitable self already. It must be pretty bad when the entire veterinarian's office comments on her behavior. Seems that every time someone walked by her cage, she jumped up and down. Of course! That's my girl. And when they brought her out to me, she walked into a wall. I called her name, she ran over to me, and crashed her cone into my leg. Ouch! She was fine but I'm not so sure about my leg.

She was so happy to be home and played with her toys immediately. But soon she was very tired. I could tell she didn't feel quite as chipper as I thought she was. Poor thing.

The irony to all of this is, of course, the timing. I had been anticipating Nikki's first exposure to rain, specifically getting her to go outside to pee in the rain. Would she or wouldn't she? Well, it finally rained - T-storms no less - but where was Nikki? Overnight at the vet. Oh well. Next time.

Weight Update: she now weighs 41.7 lbs. Her growth has slowed down a bit, which can only be a good thing!

Callie seems to be doing fine so far. I was waiting for a call back from the oncologist as he was going to touch base with Dr. LaRue in CO re: her course of treatment. When I got home from Nikki's play date, I had a voice mail waiting for me from All Care. Seems Callie is a candidate for radiation, which is sure better than lopping off her nose! They needed my permission to email Callie's MRI to Dr. LaRue, so I called them back. No call back. I called them today and left another message.

When I went in to pick up Nikki at Garden Grove Dog & Cat Hospital, Dr. Malo (the doc that gave me Callie's diagnosis) came in to talk to me about Nikki. He had a sad look on his face, which I didn't understand until he asked me for an update on Callie (he knows how much she means to me). I told him that I couldn't get a call back from All Care so he said he'd fix that. He joked that they were scared of him. He got on the phone and instructed them to call me today, no matter what, before midnight. I got a call back at 7 PM! I didn't get to ask all of my questions as the oncologist is still out of town but I instructed them to email the MRI to Dr. LaRue. The doctor I talked to said that a problem could occur if there is one cell that metastasizes. They wouldn't know it until it showed up elsewhere in the body (sigh).

All Care will be in touch with me again when they get a radiation plan going. So in the meantime, Callie is happy to be home. The funny thing is that she runs and hides when she sees me pick up my purse. She thinks I'm taking her to the vet. Smart kid!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Callie's Health

Thursday morning, Dr. Malo called with the final results of Callie's biopsy. Melanoma. I was amazed. I didn't know cats could get melanoma. He said it wasn't a "hot" cancer but not one of the better ones either. Plus, since it's located in her nose, he didn't know what choices were available to us. He referred me to All Care. Been there, done that, with Mignon who eventually died of lymphoma. So I called All Care and made an appointment for Friday at 1:30 p.m.

Callie and I went for her appointment, but I bet it was harder on me than her. One, she has no idea that she has a malignancy and two, it was all too much déjà vu for me. I kept telling myself that it wasn't possible that I was back there again, this time with Callie. The staff was very kind to me during Mignon's year-long illness, but still .... And the waiting. Endless hours of waiting.

We saw the oncologist (naturally he did not remember me) and we talked about treatment. Melanoma is treated best via surgery but this was in her nose, so possibly radiation would be the way to go. Surgery is more effective, however. I could have saved costs by not running more tests, but I felt it was best to know if it had metastasized or not, so we'd know exactly with what we were dealing. He kept her that afternoon and did X-rays. He wanted to keep her overnight so they could do the MRI first thing in the morning, but I said I'd rather take her home. I knew she'd be far happier that way and less stressed. The doctor kept insisting that I had to be there at 5:30 a.m. and that I could not be late. OK, I said. And then I was to return at 1:30 p.m. to talk to him about the results.

Saturday - Woke up at 4:30 a.m. Ugh. Not even 5 hours of sleep. Got Callie to All Care a few minutes before 5:30 a.m. I still had to wait! I didn't get out of there until almost 6:15 a.m. Drove home, stopped for gas, tried to crash for awhile, then had to get up and get ready for Nikki's 9AM training class. Threw Nikki and myself into the car (no small feat) and rushed over to PetsMart. Got there late, which stressed me out. Nikki was highly excitable so it was an interesting class. I broke out in a sweat. Actually, I always do when I take her to her training class, something which surprises the trainer, I think.

I had scheduled an appointment for Nikki to be groomed for the first time. I was surprised to hear that it would take almost 2 hours. I had to leave her there and go home. I crashed again. Ate a quick lunch and dashed back to pick her up. Took a few pictures of her there and at home. Then I crated a very tired Nikki and raced back to All Care. And then I waited.

Callie's MRI Results - The oncologist brought me into a conference room. He began to explain how small the slices were that they had taken. I had seen my friend Robert's MRI of his head (and believe me, the human head, especially the eyes, looks so weird) so I wasn't too taken aback by Callie's MRI. In fact, Callie's MRI was much easier to look at than Robert's had been. The doctor pointed out Callie's brain and began to explain the various views we were looking at. My stomach was in knots. He hadn't started off with the conclusion, so I was imagining the worst.

Luckily, the cancer has not metastasized. However, the tumor is located in a bad area - her nose. The oncologist, with all of his years experience, has NEVER seen melanoma in a cat's nose before. Oh, great. Callie is a test case. Not what we needed. Normally, you lop off the tumor and you're done. But this is her nose. If we do surgery, the doctor informed me, she'll be badly disfigured. She will lose her nose, her beautiful, charming little nose. Her adorable nose with the white stripe dividing it will end up looking like a pig's snout. Because of this, the oncologist wants to email another doctor to get a second opinion about the course of treatment - surgery or radiation. He is hoping that she has had experience with this type of cancer in this location before. This will probably take up to two weeks to get a response, but since the cancer is a low-grade melanoma, it will be OK.

I'm seriously considering getting a third opinion somewhere. I want to save Callie's life AND preserve her face, if at all possible. If any of you feel comfortable contacting your vet, maybe you get feedback for me about Callie's condition. If your vet knows of a cutting-edge oncologist in my local SoCal area, please let me know ASAP. I have only about 2 weeks to try to figure out what I'm going to do for my little girl. Thanks!

After the consultation, it was back to the discharge room to wait for them to release Callie. I waited so long that I almost finished the novel that I had started yesterday in the waiting room! (I did finish it later that night.) They couldn't find the cat carrier so this delayed things quite a bit. Finally, Callie and I were out of there and we dashed home. I was happy to see that they didn't have to shave her tummy after all. Then, I immediately dashed back out as I had a 4:45 p.m. appointment - happily, for a much needed massage.

A busy day. I bet this is how a soccer mom feels when you have several kids you have to ferry about!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Save the Pets Hurt by Katrina

Please donate to the Humane Society to help save the pets hurt by Hurricane Katrina. These animals desperately need your help. Many pets have been left behind in basements, attics and garages by their fleeing owners. The clock is ticking as these pets need food and water immediately! They need to be rescued before they die from starvation and dehydration. Please do what you can to help these animals in need now.

Yes, it's tax deductible! And please, tell your friends! Thank you!

Go to the Links Section on your right in the side bar
or go to to donate.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Callie Has Her Biopsy

Callie Cat had her biopsy today (Friday) and she came through like a trouper. It is a growth and the vet snipped a bit off. She's on RX for awhile and I'll find out the results in 3-5 days. It could be a tumor or fungus. Let's hope it's a fungus!

Everyone at the vet's tells me how docile Callie is. Dr. Malo said that she was a really neat cat. And she is! Very special. Amazing that someone abandoned her many years ago.

Friday night, Callie slept on my dad's desk chair and then hid behind the couch after I gave her some RX. She didn't come into the bedroom and sleep with me as she normally does. She was still behind the couch Saturday morning. I got her and brought her into the bathroom where she began to relax. She used her litter box but still didn't eat or drink. I petted her and she began to purr loudly. Gave her the RX. She briefly stopped purring. She soon relaxed again and began to purr. When I opened the door, she gladly left the bathroom and headed for my bedroom. She hid under the bed but I could tell that she was beginning to feel a bit better. Her right nostril (where they did the biopsy) is probably clogged up with dried blood so it may be hampering her breathing a bit. Nothing serious but perhaps uncomfortable.

Callie surfaced twice later in the day, which was a good sign. The second time she popped up, I noticed she was trying to lick her nose; it must have started bleeding. I tried to clean the area a bit—hope that helped her. She hid back under the bed again. As bedtime approached, I was getting worried as I was supposed to give her more meds, but she was under the bed and wouldn't come out. She still hadn't eaten anything or had any water all day. To my surprise, Callie finally surfaced for a third time, so I was able to take her into the bathroom and give her some quiet time away from the other cats. After I petted her, she actually ate some food, which made me very happy. And of course, she was given her meds, which didn't make her very happy. Oh well.

On a sad note, my sister's cocker spaniel, Magic, had to have surgery on his ears and his eye Friday. He's now stone deaf and has only one eye. Poor little thing. Let's hope he recovers fast.