Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Socialisation circuit

Bondi is sleeping today. He's still having trouble with his food so I'm sparing him some of the indignity of my supervision by leaving some chicken casserole and rice in a dish for him to graze on while I take Munson out.


When you have a water-proof camera, you can take fountain's eye view pictures of a thirsty pup:

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Munson is attending obedience classes sponsored by the City of Sydney. In his intermediate-level group we make sure that he is paying attention to commands despite distractions from other dogs or people.

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Final exercise of obedience class #4: all the dogs have to sit in a circle with their heads facing out.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Four Day Wonder

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I had an unexpected call at lunch-time from Bondi's surgeon to say that he was doing so well -eating, walking, wanting to play with one of the nurses - that there was no reason why he shouldn't go home that afternoon.  Unbelievable!

I collected him at 5pm - still a bit unsteady on his feet and not quite able to get into the car unassisted. Once home he circled through each water bowl and bucket to top up - so wonderful to see him trying to drink with gusto, although he is obviously having to adapt to the changed shape of his mouth. He settled down on the floor to rest and I reluctantly left him to take Munson for some exercise in the park and to update everyone down there on Bondi's progress.

We returned home to find that Bondi had made his way to my bed ( and is still kipping there some hours later).


A most hearty thanks to Dr Eugene Buffa and the team at SASH (Small Animal Specialist Hospital) who ensured that Bondi was completely cared for and that I was kept up to date through this roller-coaster of a week.

Over the next few weeks we've got a round of follow-ups visits for both the surgery and pathology results for the extracted tumour, and to monitor the progress on his Cushing's medication. The latter will make a significant difference in getting the hair regrown in a timely fashion.

Bondi's diet will change permanently - no more bones or even hard kibble - only softer foods from now on. For at least a few weeks I'll also have to juggle different excursions and exercise for the two boys so that Bondi is not wearied by eager puppies, and Munson can burn off his energy without hassling Bondi.

Good night. I have some sleeping of my own to catch up on.

Meanwhile…

Old Fish Shop Cafe - Newtown

Rather than mope around the house this week, I've been making sure that Munson is getting some special attention so that he doesn't miss Bondi so much.

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Sand Angel

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Pups dig into your head in unexpected ways.

Munson: 11 months, 43.5kg

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The luckiest man in the world

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Ten years ago I took home a meek little puppy with a starry white blaze draped over his crown who made me the luckiest man in the world.

Three days ago I took him for treatment of a relatively small issue, which revealed a life-threatening condition and a recent history of intense pain that made me feel that the sky had been falling in for months and I was only going to see the dust settle under a black firmament. However with all that, my life is infused with memories of him and with the warm glow of love from all those have met him or shared his story in recent years, enough light and heat to replace every star in the sky. That still makes me the luckiest man in the world.

Today I visited Bondi in the hospital, looking a bit sorry for himself with stitches, shaved skin and morphine, but then he sat up and inclined his head into my cupped hand, and I knew he was going to pull through. I am indeed the luckiest man in the world.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Surgery update

Bondi's surgeon called me around 2pm to let me know the operation was done - I think it must have been 4 hours all up. He believes he's removed all the matter to be found - I'll spare you the gory details.

Right now Bondi is getting rest and a blood transfusion, and will likely not be ready for visitors until at least tomorrow night.

That's left me feeling much better after frankly a quite fragile 48 hours as the bad news kept trickling in.

Thank you to all who left comments, emailed, called, hugged and generally made me feel better about my little prince.

[ 6.45pm he's doing OK, heavily sedated. The surgeon is doing a terrific job at keeping me up to date, and suggests I call after 10am tomorrow ]

Monday, March 23, 2009

The tunnel at the end of the light

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Yesterday Bondi was referred to a specialist hospital after I took him into the vet worried about dehydration. He had been refusing most food and only sipping water for several days, I believe because of his jaw pain.

The hospital staff put him on an IV overnight for rehydration and feeding, plus morphine as his oral analgesia so far seems to have been drastically under requirements. Discovering that he has been incredibly stoic through what may have been months of extreme pain has been tearing me up all night.

I am trying so hard to keep it together.

Over the last hour I've had  calls from a surgeon and clinician at the hospital following a CT scan of Bondi's skull. This revealed an aggressively growing "orange-sized" tumour in his mandibular joint. There's no immediate sign of metastasis. Examining the tumour is going to have to occur after removal of  half of the mandible ( hemimandibulectomy ) as assessment would take over a week and merely delay - painfully delay - a  surgical solution.  Surgery is tentatively scheduled for tomorrow, with a few days post-op recovery before he could come home.

Evenso, this still leaves Bondi in a palliative care situation, with a likely 6-9 months to say goodbye, I guess dependent on whether any metastasis has occurred.

Hug your dogs and tell them that you love them.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pill potion

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Some progress has been made with Bondi's condition since last week's post.

Firstly, he was properly diagnosed with Cushing's disease, whereby an internal feedback loop goes awry and the dog is poisoned by its own blood cortisol. This has long been high on my list of suspected conditions, but which hitherto I've had trouble convincing veterinarians was worth the trouble of diagnosis. In Bondi's case, the fully qualified condition is "pituitary dependent hyperadrenocorticism".

Secondly we had to procure the drug Trilostane which I started Bondi on before we left the UK and which was so effective in restoring his coat and all round good health. Bondi - before & after Trilostane

Trilostane is not a listed pharmacy item in Australia, so you've either got to import it or find someone with an existing license. Just applying to be allowed to import it is $75 with a further $260 "assessment". Luckily, before I'd faxed off that second payment, my vet located a pharmacy who could fill our script and I grabbed the first month's supply out of a wallet-trembling six month order.

Bondi's been increasingly off his food lately; I think because of the anticipated pain of opening his mouth to eat. When he does get in the mood, he swiftly polishes off a large bowl of kibble. I can't wait around to dose him with these new meds, so I spooned some yoghurt onto a plate and decorated it with his pills. A little dab of yoghurt on the tongue to tempt him, and the whole concoction was not far behind.

Earlier today I was sitting outside a coffee shop, Bondi curled up tightly next to me, with his head resting on my shoe as I intermittently scritched him around the back of his ears. At some point he began to cry and yowl softly as some pain hit him. Completely tore me up. Munson came over, and sat in front of Bondi, licking his paws.

He's bounced back from worse, but we're not going to see an overnight improvement. Keeping him comfortable and cheerful through the bad breaks is my major mission.

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An inspiring tattoo by Erich Foster.
Munson - pensive in bath

Munson, pensive after a bath.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

She farted and created the world

 

Scott Coello, the creator of this piece writes:

She Farted And Created The World is an animation about a dog who farts and creates a world… and follow a sort-of evolution cycle within it.

The whole thing is made entirely from recycled papers. Bank statements, bills, scraps found on the street, pointless spam mail, paper the graphic kids throw out (they waste so much paper)… whatever I could get my mitts on!

I dedicate this animation to the worlds greatest dog, Maggie, who lost her lady bits last summer. Hope this’ll cheer her up

Read more here and also download the soundtrack.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Munson's Big Day Out

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Bondi's spending the day at the vet having his glands checked, soooo……

Munson's day out as solo dog began with brunch out and special attention to café etiquette and attire. After all, he is named after a major centre of coffee culture in London W5, and needed to be schooled in the eccentric ways of court.

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Next stop was the beach for a comprehensive flea drowning soaking and mad run around on the sand. I played around with the water proof camera to capture 1) my shadow under water, and 2) a fish-eye view of me.

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We picked up Bondi (very cheery) from the vet and all three of us trotted off for ninety minutes at the park.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Out there on my own

Moderating some of the joy of Bondi's two recent photo competition wins has been the increasing amount of jaw pain he has been experiencing. Until recent weeks the pain had been infrequent - or at least his audible reaction to it. But every other day now he cries out when it is jarred  or over-extended (when eating, or lecturing Munson). This evening it was jarred badly by an over-friendly puppy jumping up to lick his mouth, inevitably head-butting Bondi from underneath. The long cry brought a hush over everyone nearby in the park.

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More frequently Bondi is having to avoid the throng of dogs bounding around or playfully tussling to find a spot where he can sit without disturbance. He doesn't appear to mope but it gives me plenty to think about.

Later that evening he had some shorter episodes where just arising from a nap wrenched something around the jaw and the cry would pierce every wall in the house. I would run to check him, quickly followed by Munson who solicitously sniffs him over. I'm so upset that I get a stress head-ache and need to take some pain-relief of my own. I hate taking pain-killers  and it frustrates me further that I can't tell if the medication the vet has supplied in recent weeks is having an effect. Is it reducing the frequency or intensity of the pain? I can't know. This week we've switched to codeine and the vet has asked me to vary the dose within certain limits to see where we're getting the most benefit.

Until the jaw-pain started, giving Bondi oral medication was a snap - I'd just open his mouth and push them swiftly into his throat. Now I can't open his mouth to do that, so I get a pinch of grated cheese and mould that around the pills in the palm of my hand so that he'll lick it all up.

For a while we've been proceeding on the basis of the pain being arthritis, with the caveat that it would have to be treated differently to the arthritis in his front joints. Last week's veterinary consultation indicated some wasting of muscles at the back of his jaw and on the top of his head where they connect to the sagittal ridge. This might be an outcome of the adrenal condition / "Alopecia X" that affected his coat so badly in recent years. As it happens that issue is being reviewed since his coat is showing signs of deterioration.

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Through all of this Bondi is still the beautiful friendly fellow he has ever been.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Grufts

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The Guardian newspaper has been running a competition Grufts, the search for the World's Leading Liberal Dog.

I added a few pictures of Bondi to the Flickr group, and this morning find that he has won  the Best-travelled category.

Voting is open for about 10 hours now (until 11am Tuesday 10th March GMT) for best overall dog.

Vote here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/poll/2009/mar/09/grufts-shortlist-vote-for-winner

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Thanks to all who voted for Bondi in The Guardian's online poll. After being short-listed as Best-Travelled dog, Bondi placed second in the public vote.

[The image above comes from The Guardian International Edition  available at PressDisplay.com]

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Kirribilli morning

Sydney Harbour Bridge & Opera House

Out and about this cool Sunday morning at Kirribilli markets, under the northern approach to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. On October 20 1973, my family sat near one of the harbour-side pylons as Queen Elizabeth II opened the Sydney Opera House.

Luna Park

Ferry in triplicate

An almost-working photo stitch (the fence is broken up) showing the same ferry 3 times.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Roving Eye Awards Dinner

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Tonight the Blue Hotel in Woolloomooloo hosted the 2008 Roving Eye Awards in which I'd won the Traveller's Tale category of the Photo Essay section. Since I mentioned photo-stitching software to a few of the quite brilliant photographers I met there ( wave!) I've uploaded a couple of simple examples here. The photos above and below are each stitched together from 3 separate images. If you look closely at the streetscape above, you'll see a couple of backpackers appear to the left and then again in the centre - I didn't catch them again as I was waiting for traffic to clear before I could take the right-most image.

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The hotel lobby bar where the exhibition will be for the next two weeks. The mount with my set of 10 photos are the first that you see as you approach the exhibition.

I was asked many times where the subject of the photos was tonight. If this exhibition had been hosted in almost any of the other 30 countries Bondi has visited, he would have been able to attend. Alas poor Australia…

In a curious coincidence, one of the competition judges is Alan Davies, Photographic Curator of the NSW State Library. Alan was one of the researchers who saw the contents of my great grandmother's trunk back in 1989 and produced a feature display for the exhibition At Work and At Play: our past in pictures. He remembered the trunk and the more recent quest to find it again. Naturally he was very pleased that it has resurfaced and its contents will get another exhibition this year.

My booty for the night was a trophy plaque and a specially produced book with the all the winning/commended images, including a double page spread of Bondi's exploits.

Dogs are a-dabbling, Up tails all!

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Flickr slideshow