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Well, if you haven’t already heard, I’ll just tell you upfront: Brees didn’t make it.

Now the details…

Brees and I had a really wonderful time traveling together. I was such a proud mummy. Brees was so well-behaved, without even having to be told. He stayed at my side, didn’t pull on the leash or try to sniff everyone. He allowed everyone to touch him and stroke him; a little 1.5 yr old boy ran over and threw himself on top of Brees, and all Brees did was lick his face. It was like a dream. I wish I could travel with him every time I go away.

sweet boy in the airport

JetBlue was really great, and gave us the whole front row of the plane to ourselves, so Brees had plenty of space to lay at my feet. They even upgraded us to those larger front seats at no extra charge! I’m not sure if that’s standard practice when you travel with a service dog, or if it’s just because the flight wasn’t very full; but either way, it was awesome!

When we arrived in Fort Lauderdale, my cousin, Steph, and her boyfriend, John, picked us up from the airport and took us back to their place. Steph has a Boston Terrier named Scooter who is about 1.5yrs old. When we first arrived, Scooter was super excited and had to let Brees know that we were on his turf, but after that, they got on just great. They had a few playful battles over various toys and rawhides (seeing who could stack the most items in their corner) and generally just enjoyed each other’s company.

The next morning (Monday), we had our appointment with Dr. Fanning at the Hollywood Animal Hospital, bright & early at 8.20am. We were seen at about 9am, and explained all Brees’ history and symptoms and medications to Dr. Fanning in addition to giving her his official medical records and x-rays from Palmdale Vet Clinic (here in Nassau). She said they were going to run a slew of tests as well as take some radiographs (x-rays) and do an ultrasound, but that we would be able to pick him up later that afternoon, and we could discuss the results of his tests then.

So Steph and I bid Brees a quick farewell (he always gets so upset when I leave, so I tried to make it quick), left a deposit for the tests, and went to breakfast at this awesome diner called Lester’s. The rest of the day we spent running a few errands and doing some shopping (I love me some Target) and then returned home to rest and have a nap before going back to pick up Brees.

I guess it was around 4pm when Dr. Fanning called to give me an update. On his bloodwork, the most notable thing was his low levels of Albumin. Albumin is a protein in the blood (from what I gather) and his levels have been consistently decreasing since I admitted him to the hospital last Wednesday. Not a good thing. She said it meant he was leaking it from somewhere (how-I have no idea) and that he also had a lot of fluid in his abdominal cavity, which was very unusual.

The radiologist, after looking at the x-rays, felt that the “angry” shape of Brees’ small intestines indicated a linear foreign obstruction, ie: a piece of string, or something of that nature stuck somewhere in his G.I. tract. So Dr. Fanning was suggesting opening up Brees’ abdomen for exploratory surgery to try and find the suspected foreign body, and also just to take a look at his other organs and make sure everything looked right. This really freaked me out. Really! They were going to have to put him under anesthesia, which is always risky, but even more so for a dog with an already compromised liver (what happens if they can’t wake him up from the anesthesia?). And, they were going to be cutting a 6-12inch (12 inches!? That’s a FOOT!) incision into his belly. Into my puppy’s belly. I was so scared, but what could I do? This was the only option…

She told me that she was about to scrub into the surgery which she expected to take no more than 2 hours, and that she would call me as soon as he woke up from the anesthesia. However, she also warned me that if anything went awry during the surgery, that she would be calling me sooner. She said she didn’t expect this to happen at all, but she just had to warn me, in case. I said ok, and wished her good luck.

It couldn’t have been more than half an hour later when my phone rang… I recognized the phone number, and it was Dr. Fanning. I answered, bracing myself for bad news, and she gave it to me. Brees has multiple extrahepatic portosystemic shunts; too many to even count. In addition to that, his other organs, especially his small intestines, were small, shriveled and sick looking. She told me that with this many shunts, his condition was inoperable, and also not treatable with medicine or supplements. She needed to know what I wanted them to do; whether I wanted them to stitch him up and try to wake him so that I could say goodbye, or just put him to sleep while he was already under anesthesia…I was stunned. How could this happen? My puppy was fine (outwardly) when I left him with you this morning. Last night he was playing and eating and being perfect. And I love him so much. And you’re telling me he doesn’t have a chance at surviving?

Anyone who has ever had to make this decision knows how devastating it is… I told her I needed to speak with Benji before I gave her an answer, and would call her back. So I called Benji (barely coherent, as you can imagine) and tried to explain the situation. We were both on the same page. There was no sense in trying to wake him up just so that I could say goodbye. I can’t even imagine how difficult that would have been for me or Brees. Brees has always had the worst anxiety about me leaving him, even if I just walk out of the room for 30 seconds. I couldn’t imagine putting him through that again, especially in his delicate condition.

So I called Dr. Fanning back and told her that we had decided it would be best not to wake him up, and I asked her if it would be possible to cremate his remains so that we could take him back to The Bahamas with us. She said of course, and that they would take care of it. I just couldn’t imagine leaving my baby in a foreign place, where he would probably just be disposed of without respect in a dumpsite somewhere. It hurts my heart to even think about that…

And so. We’ve lost Brees. The most soulful, loving, emotional and intelligent dog I’ve ever had. He really was like my child, and my chest physically hurts when I feel the loss. I knew him and loved him from the day he was born, anxiously awaiting the day I could take him home with me. We had so many wonderful memories with Brees, and quite a few painful, scary experiences…ending, finally, with this one.

I try to take consolation in my belief that, although his life was far too short, it was a good life. We did everything we possibly could and spared no expense in our fight to save him. I don’t think my connection with Brees will ever be matched; he was a one in a million, special dog, and I will never forget him.

R.I.P. baby Breesy. I love you.

7 January 2010 – 12 July 2010

forever at my side, and in my heart

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Well, Brees has hit another run of bad luck…First Parvo, now this…

It started at least a week ago now. We noticed that he was being more talkative (whinier) than usual. Mostly when he would lay down on his bed beside our’s, he would start crying, and shifting around like he couldn’t get comfortable. We couldn’t figure out whether he was in pain, or just bored and antsy or what. It was weird though, cuz he would only ever cry when he laid down before bed; all day he would be perfectly fine, so we figured he couldn’t be in pain, could he?

Anyway, on Monday (I think it was…) my dad took all the dogs to the beach, and they had a grand ol’ time as usual. But the next evening, on Tuesday, I found one of those big grey ticks on Brees, and was like, oh God, gross! Cuz our dogs have never had ticks…So that’s when I got all paranoid that Brees could have picked up one of these horrible tick diseases (erlichia anyone?), so first thing Wednesday morning, I let my boss know I was going to be late, and I took Brees in to the vet.

On the way to the vet though, Brees basically exploded from both ends…poor baby. I started to notice this foul odour, and I was like, wtf Benji? Did you fart? And he’s like, no? So we pull over to check on Brees, and lo & behold, he had thrown up his breakfast and diahorea’d the foulest black shit you have ever seen/smelled in your life. Thank God we were on our way to the vet!!

Our vet, Dr. Grant had a look at him, and was really alarmed at how thin Brees is, that he should have put on more weight by now. Brees had been home almost 8 weeks since Parvo and had been eating…But when we weighed him, he only weighed 37lbs, which is actually 2lbs LESS than he weighed when we took him home after Parvo (Parvo was 7 days in isolation with NO food…so you can imagine how alarmed I was/am that he somehow lost weight since then…)

So Dr. Grant ran the tick tests, all negative, and did some blood work. And that’s where this mess really begins…

Brees’ blood work showed extremely elevated liver indicators (I can’t remember which ones, like ALKP and ALT maybe?) and in addition to that, he was slightly anaemic AND had a high white blood cell count, indicating an infection. But not just any type of infection, because his neutrophils and monocytes were also very elevated which means it’s a certain type of infection which requires the removing of debris in the blood (as I understood it…)

Soooo, Dr. Grant says that these liver levels indicate that he’s likely ingested something toxic. That’s when I remember that about a week prior, I had found a chewed up bottle of Hot Spot/Anti-itch Spray in the yard. At the time I thought nothing of it, but now of course, I’m thinking oh God, we poisoned Breesy by leaving that out, and he got into it, and oh my God! So I researched the ingredients in that particular brand of hot spot spray, and as it turned out, the vets don’t think that could be what is causing his liver issues…(so hopefully it isn’t my fault!!)

But Brees had to be admitted to the hospital immediately nonetheless, and hooked up to IV fluids to try and flush the toxins out of his system. They also put him on some liver meds and 2 types of antibiotic (penicillin & something else…) So that was Wednesday. Unfortunately, the timing of this incident is terrible, because our most trusted vet, Dr. Grant (the same vet who saved Brees from Parvo), goes abroad on vacation for 2 weeks on Thursday! So Brees’ case is being given to Dr. Davis, who is probably perfectly competent, but we don’t really have any experience with him (other than that he was the vet who came to our house two years ago to put our 18-month old German Shepherd, Weezy, to sleep, as he was suffering from Juvenile Renal Disease…not exactly a positive experience…)

But what are you gonna do, right? So on Thursday, I asked Dr. Davis to do a Barium study to check for any obstructions or abnormalities in Brees’ GI tract. So he does, but the findings are really unusual…Brees’ stomach is super enlarged, to the extent that you really can’t see any other organs (kidney, liver, gall bladder, etc) and his large and small intestines are “angry” as Dr. Davis put it, and are not in the location you would expect to find them. The small intestine, is pushed back and down, toward his tail, and the large intestine is up and forward. On top of all that, there is some kind of stone, or hard object, which the vets are assuming is a gall stone (because it’s in the area where you would expect to find the gall bladder…but who really knows?) However, the clinic here only has x-ray as a tool, no endoscopy, no ultrasound, nothing, so there’s really no way to confirm what’s going on. So all in all, the tests are inconclusive and don’t give us any kind of explanation or diagnosis for what’s going on with poor Breesy.

Dr. Davis also thinks that Brees might have an ulcer (or multiple) because his poo was black again (black poo = digested blood). So Dr. Davis, and the practice owner, Dr. Bizzell, recommended we take Brees to the U.S. where specialists with the right tools can hopefully, figure out a diagnosis.

So that’s what we’re doing. We’re taking Brees to Hollywood Animal Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I’ve booked my ticket, made an appointment, told work I’m going to be out of office and asked my cousin Steph, if I can crash with her for a few days…

Wish us luck! Fingers crossed for a treatable diagnosis…

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Well, in follow-up to that last post (like 3 weeks ago…) I did in fact swim. I did not get struck by lightning. The waterproof iPod shuffle was awesome. And my arms were sore the next day. All in all, a very positive experience. Which makes it difficult to explain why I haven’t done it again? Hmm….Life just gets away from you some times, and before you know it, months have gone by! Oh well. I’ve been having a good time nonetheless!

Last week, Benji’s 2 best friends from college were in town, and I’d never met them, so that was fun! We made a super fun trip down to Exuma for 2 nights, slept aboard the NanSea (Benji’s Dad’s new 56ft Ocean Yacht) and had an all-around great time!!

ze NanSea

The area of Exuma where we stayed is part of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, and is absolutely stunning! I actually read a scientific article somewhere that said the clearest water in the world, is found in Exuma! It’s a no-take marine reserve too, so you see tonnes of wildlife! And there are lots of secluded cays and creeks and special places where you can have total peace and privacy; never seeing another soul.

I explored one such spot on Hawksbill Cay; a small creek, inaccessible by boat. It wasn’t the most beautiful thing that I’ve ever seen, although it was beautiful. But what really made that afternoon special was how alone  and peaceful I felt; how connected to nature and life I felt surrounded by pure silence and beauty. I wish I could feel that every day. So serene.

entrance to the creek

meandering thru the flats and mangroves

the water is so shallow and warm, like bath water!

just my footprints in the sand

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This morning I booked my flights to go to Bermuda for Christmas! I realise it’s only June, but tickets to BDA are hella expensive. As it turns out, I had enough miles with American to get there! Only 35,000 miles, and then $114 in taxes! Not bad at all, considering that I would have paid $880 for the same ticket!

I’m sooooo excited to spend this Christmas with my mum’s side of the family, aaaaaand for Benji to be coming with me!! :)

Last year, I spent Christmas in Spanish Wells with Benji’s family, and it was lovely. But there’s nothing like being with your own family during the holidays! I guess part of growing up and settling down is having to alternate spending holidays with each other’s fam. Unfortunately for me, my parents are split up, so there’s 3 parties in the rotation! (my mum, my dad and Benji’s fam) That’s probably more unfortunate for Benji, hahah!

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I know I know! It’s been like a year since I last blogged! Gahhh! And I really have no excuse whatsoever, seeing as I haven’t actually been employed the last 2 weeks…but…I been uber busy with Breesy boy…snuggling, kissing, playing, walking, peeing. Puppies are intensely time consuming. Something I did NOT quite realise…

Today is his 9 week birthday! Yayyyyy! :) And here he is.

sweet boy

Last weekend, we took him up to Spanish Wells with us. There, he was introduced to the ocean:

and it was COLD!

He’ll be an island pup in no time!

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Ahhh, it’s been so long! But, I’m not gonna apologise; I been livin’ life kids! Ha, well kind of.

As you may recall (I actually can’t remember if I told you) my contract with the Government expired at the end of December, but I went back to work on Jan 4th nonetheless. I was, however, sent home, due to the lack of contract. So, a week goes by. Nothing. I start working at Ferragamo to help fill out the schedule (they’re a few ladies short of a full staff) and fix a few mix-ups with the database/inventory, etc.

One week passes, another week passes…still no word from Government. Then it was time for Benji & my trip to New Orleans. I don’t think I mentioned this. My friend, Jocelyn, was getting married, so we had this trip planned for a while. But THEN, it just so happened that the Saints kept pushing through, and made it to the NFC Championship game, IN New Orleans! That was just plain luck that we were in town that same weekend! :)

Jackson Square

Anyhow, the trip was awesome. Meanwhile, I get an email from my bosses in gov’t, saying I need to write a letter requesting that my contract be renewed. Ok. First of all, WHAT? And second of all, why are you only just telling me this NOW?! Idiots. So I did, sent it in on Monday past. Who knows when I’ll hear back…I guess I’ll just continue to work shifts at Ferragamo…even though it is starting to kill my soul. It is SO. mind-numbingly. BORING!!

In puppy news, the babies are 4 WEEKS OLD TODAY!!! :D I went to visit them yesterday afternoon, and they are SO. FREAKIN’. CUTE!! I almost died! Like seriously, check it out:

Baby Boy!

I’m gonna get to take his cute little butt home in just 4 more weeks! I can’t friggin’ wait. We already have a name for him. It’s “Brees”, as in Drew Brees: the New Orleans Saints QB. I know. It’s pretty awesome :)

Other updates include: my kitchen renovation is more or less finished! Here’s a pic:

My Kitchenette

That’s all for now! I’m off work tomorrow, and I gern to get my hurr did! :) Woot woot!

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Holy brokeness Batman. Christmas-time + Guests in town = I have no money.

I didn’t do too bad on the Christmas gift front. All in all probably a few hundred bucks. But THEN, my friends came in town, and boy…let me break it down for you…

Liquor Store: +/- $525

Food Store: +/- $150

Cigars: +/- $450

Gas in boat: +/- $600

Fireworks: +/- $400

What does that even come to?? Shit…$2,125. And that doesn’t even include other incidentals, or random crap I can’t think of at the moment…All in all, Benji & I prolly spent like $2,500, and let me tell you…I’m hurting now.

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