Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009


Bondi's surgeon called today to discuss the results of the pathology lab's analysis of his tumour. It's a very aggressive osteosarcoma, and while it seems to have been thoroughly removed from the jaw, it's very likely to have spread throughout the body already.  The most likely place for it to settle is in the lungs.

When these cancers begin in the lower jaw (as in Bondi's case), the prognosis is a little better but we're basically looking at 8 months without chemotherapy. Chemo might add a few months at best. Tracking Bondi's weight may give the best indication of how he's bearing up under this assault.


While walking the boys around the Sydney Domain area yesterday, we stopped outside the Art Gallery of NSW for Bondi to rest up. An old lady stopped by to say hello: "I love old dogs. Do you know why? It means that they're loved."

And he loves me.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

On transit

Jarrett Walker has just launched Human Transit, a blog on public transit systems.

Why am I writing about this here?


Having lived and worked on 3 continents over the last decade, sometimes with, sometimes without a car, I've become very sensitive to the deficiencies in public transport in Sydney, my home city. Hopping on and off buses, trams,  trains and ferries with Bondi in over thirty countries makes me question why so many simple things are hard to achieve back home.

I see a good transport system as a cornerstone in building good community, and if we value good community then the values that direct our public transport have to be weighed over technical issues.

Transport is not just about building railway lines, and funding sufficient buses. It's about how the elements of a city come together for work and play. It affects our streetscapes and public spaces, now mostly given over to road traffic.

Berlin Edinburgh 

How are all these things connected? Is our transport network built to serve commuters or delivery vehicles? Will it allow me to get around the city, attend public events, do my shopping, take my dog to the vet or an offleash park - all without a car? In cities like London, Paris or Berlin it would seem that I can do all these things with relative ease compared to Sydney.

I look at my local shopping centre which is almost disconnected from the public transport system and has to maintain a very large rooftop parking area. For those people in the area without vehicles, the only way to get shopping home is to pinch a shopping trolley and push it for a kilometre, then abandoning it in a park or side alley. Even if buses connected with the centre, Sydney's buses have such narrow aisles that they cannot handle prams, shopping carts, pets, wheelchairs or bicycles. Ditto for the buses. When I travelled on buses in Europe or North America, it was not that unusual too see multiple instances of these things on a single bus: pram, wheelchair and dog easily shuffled around. Think how much access could be improved by having a subsidised loop bus around the neighbourhood that could accommodate shopping carts!

A well integrated public transport network allows people to not only achieve necessary tasks, but to explore their city. Bondi and I roved around many cities without a car, encouraged by non-restrictive transport policies, accessible vehicles and electronic ticketing systems that not only simplified transferring from one vehicle to another, but hopping off and on a single route to explore a neighbourhood.

 London Underground

A few weeks ago I attended a town hall forum on transport planning for the City of Sydney, one of the elements of the plan for Sustainable Sydney 2030. The meeting was very well attended but unfortunately the unmoderated question time was subverted by a few people with political questions unrelated to the topic, and a lady who wanted to ramble on about New York snow and air-conditioning of buildings in Killara. Those of us lined up behind her at the microphone, with real transport questions, were grinding teeth as time ebbed away and question time cut short. While the City of Sydney has a feedback website it isn't set up to allow online forums to drill down on issues, and there's not even any certainty that your feedback has been received. I hope Jarrett's blog may serve an attractor for such discussions.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Old Man and the Sea


I love sitting with Bondi on the beach and watching the wind tear white caps off the waves. Munson zips around us , occasionally pausing to dig in the sand or root for flotsam and disgustsum amongst the tide-abandoned seaweed.  It's hard to believe that it's been four weeks since Bondi's operation. This is his second visit to the beach over the last week, the two trips bookending four days at home while I souped and slept through a head cold.

Bondi's keen to get out for walks every day, and set off at a fair clip for a circuit of Sydney Park this week. He's resumed duties in reprimanding Munson, but I have to be careful that he doesn't get too involved in general park patrols. On Monday a labrador had a go at him, causing Bondi to rip open several stitches from the side of his mouth, leading to a bloody exit from the park.

The stitches are of little concern - I'm more interested in making sure that Bondi is eating enough each day. He'd eat ginger biscuits all day, but I'm still struggling to get him to eat his kibble or meatballs. On top of that he seems to have some very itchy skin eruption on his scalp that's annoying him more and more.

P4220016 P4220029


Saturday, April 18, 2009


First 8 weeks

It's Munson's first birthday today. In the ten months since he joined the family, he's grown into a sweet lad, a mighty digger and dedicated swimmer. Many simple pleasures are contained in this, but how lucky am I!

Months 2-12

Monday, April 13, 2009

Water stories


Wet fur weekend!

Saturday: Bondi had his first post-op swim at Double Bay (above and below)

Sunday BBQ: Bondi quite happily sits by the pool (drinking about one-tile height out of its volume) but retires to a safe corner while Munson plays with the labs.

Monday: Rainy day on King St; Munson shelters below my table.

20090413 King St rainy Easter Monday

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The week in review

relaxing in front yard

This week kinda got away with me with so much on.

pre-stitch removal waiting in the surgery

Bondi had his stitches removed on Wednesday. You can see what an amazing job was done in preserving the external appearance of Bondi's jaw, and how quickly he's healing up. It's only two weeks since I first saw him groggily sit up after the operation. Thanks to the Trilostane we're already seeing some hair regrowth in the shaved area. I'm still waiting to hear the results of the pathology tests on the tumour.

Prof John Hendry rear of Wentworth building

I attended one of Sydney University's free public lectures. Prof Sir John Pendry of Imperial College, London spoke on The Science of Invisibility. Heady stuff and well-presented. I spied some of my fellow physics undergrad classmates in the audience; probably the first time we've sat in the same lecture theatre in 25 years! I had a little wander around this corner of the campus, it's much changed since a huge bout of redevelopment. The engineering precinct looked quite beautiful under the full moon.

P4080037 P4080038

The above light-trail images were taken while looking out over this precinct, putting the camera into night mode (a longer exposure) and swinging it around by its strap.

The next day Bondi had a set of tests at his regular vet's clinic to look at his adrenal gland functioning after having started the medication. I got back the payout from his pet insurance for the recent medication and surgery - sadly he sailed way over the annual limit on all these items so we got less than a third of the costs - it's been a VERY expensive few weeks!

Munson at beach

While Bondi was having those tests done, Munson had another de-fleaing swim. He amazed me by paddling out about 40-50m offshore, quite unconcerned by my "requests" for him to come in closer. I wonder if he'd read the news about Sophie Tucker and was looking for his own island paradise.

Bondi with welcome home gift

Bondi had his first day back in the park with the other dogs today. I'm keeping him close to me on leash for now to lower the risk of accidental injury. Things are definitely looking up!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Each day a little better

Bondi's good side

Each day sees Bondi in a better mood, and better equipped to handle his food. Today I got him to eat out of a bowl unassisted. I provided a smaller bowl with steep sides so that he was less likely to scatter food as he tried to snuffle it in. I had been guiding his head back with each mouthful so that he swallowed without relying on his tongue so much, but he seems to be doing this by himself.

First bowl of food

Munson completed his 6 week training course today and was presented with a certificate. Still, being able to type 40 wpm means I can send him off into the job market! Speaking of which, I was approached today by a film producer who was interested in using Munson as a "ravenous wolf" in a movie being shot in Sydney. Typecast already!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Post-surgery update

I know some of you have been checking here very regularly for an update on Bondi.

Overall he's doing well and in good spirits. I took him for a short walk up the street and back, and later in the day he presented himself at the front gate to go to the park with Munson. I figure it's too soon for that, but will review the situation next week after he's had his stitches out.

He's gradually learning to eat with his reshaped mouth although I have to hand-feed him most of his food. I take a few meatballs and cup them under his mouth so that he can nuzzle them like a horse working out of a feed-bag. I'm encouraging him to be more self-sufficient by leaving him ginger biscuits to pick up and swallow unaided. I also give him  small rawhide pieces to gently masticate - it's my version of oral physiotherapy.

There's another issue with damage to the periphery of his tongue which is a bit icky so won't go into details. The surgeon said that nature should take its course without resorting to further surgery.

As I reflect on the situation, Bondi is not aware that he's had major surgery. I see that he's much happier, that there is no longer any pain when I manipulate his head and that he appreciates the efforts I'm putting into feeding. He's also seeking out my company more than he has in recent months; with the distraction of Munson I hadn't noticed that Bondi was isolating himself in little pockets around the house, undoubtedly a reaction to the pain.

Both dogs have their preferred safe place. Munson has his spot half under the bed near the window, and Bondi likes to be on my bed during the day spread out on his blankets. Bondi hadn't been there in a while - climbing up and down would have jarred his jaw - but now he spends time there every day.

I take Munson to the park by himself most days. Some of the regulars there had not heard the news and feared the worst when they saw me without Bondi. What is most touching is that the word has spread to people I've not met before or perhaps only once in passing, and so many kind people approach me to check on Bondi's progress. I'm really looking forward to the day when he can rejoin us there.

Bondi's last visit to Sydney Park