Archive for the ‘Dog Cancer’ Category

The Beagles…and Life

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

(You will see in this post that Seamus is ever-present in my mind, so I’m sharing with you one of the photos of him that we just got from the photography session we did in January before we even knew that he had cancer again. I’ll forever be grateful we had this done.)

Beagle with funny expression

Seamus…who will always be famous


I was getting good at blogging semi-regularly there for a bit and then…well, then life did what it does (which, in case you’ve forgotten, is “knock me upside the head”!!).  So here’s an update:

Daphne is recovered from her surgery and appears to be doing very well. We’re still waiting for the pathology report (anybody remember “waiting for the fall issue of Vogue” pathology report in the book??).  We don’t yet know whether she needs any additional treatment and naturally we’re hoping she does not. She continues to be a wonderful, easy going dog who charms everyone she meets…except Percival.  They have not been as charmed with each other as we initially hoped. Currently though, they seem to acknowledge that the other one isn’t going anywhere and they may as well tolerate each other. There have been brief moments of near play, but then one of them will get snappy or just generally grumpy and walk away. We think that actually neither one of them knows how to play with another dog, so it’s going to take a little time.

Percival is adjusting. But it’s been a rocky road with lots of ups and downs. He’s an adorable, sweet boy who loves to play with his toys and cuddle.  But…he’s also a puppy in many ways and his time in a lab has definitely traumatized him.  I alternate between having so much empathy for what he must have been through that I want to just give him love and attention (and pretty much anything he wants–which is in fact constant love and attention) and knowing that despite what he’s been through, he too needs structure and rules. He is every bit as stubborn as Seamus (and if you don’t think that makes me love him more, well, you need to go re-read the book!!), but his particular issues are different. Except for one…and we’ll get to that. His issues are primarily that he insists on sleeping in our bed—way under the covers, and as close to Chris as he can possible be (in fact, if he could sleep on Chris’s face and neck, he would; trust me when I tell you he’s tried. Chris is just rather fond of breathing and thus objects). Daphne does not like this one bit and Percival doesn’t like it one bit in the morning when Daphne jumps up on the bed and lands on him (she can’t see him, because he’s burrowed so far down, so understandably it comes as a huge shock to all beagles and humans alike). We can’t crate him (remember he spent 1 1/2 years in a cage being tested on by a lab…he does not have good memories of confined spaces).  So this is a challenge. The other challenge is that he was housebroken and fully understood that he was to do his business outside (and he learned a doggie door in about 5 minutes). But then he changed his mind. And now he will go for a long walk with Chris and then come back to the house to do his business. It’s a bit crazy making. But we’re working on it.

The other issue–the one that is reminiscent of Seamus–is that we learned that he has separation anxiety. He spent a day and night at doggie day care for the first time yesterday. He was fine during the day, but at night (he was in a “suite” not a crate) he shredded his bed and then chewed on his own paw. They had to bandaged both back paws to protect him from himself.  This is going to be a process with Percival, but I feel so bad for him and what that night must have been like for him. I feel like the worst beagle mom ever!  Perhaps it would have been more comforting for him to have Daphne there, but I was worried that in a strange place they might go back to fighting with each other (of course now I think that no, it would have perhaps bonded them more). Seamus needed people around him at all times. We’re hoping Percival just needs to know that he’s safe and has a permanent home. And of course, we’re hoping to teach him that that is indeed the case. So we’ll stick to a routine, give him some structure, tons of love and guidance and keep working on these issues. No one said it was going to be easy. 

And on another update, not a day goes by that I don’t think about and desperately miss Seamus.  I have not adequately responded to the many cards and gifts that were sent to us at his passing, and that is because I fall apart every time I try to do that.  I hope you all know how much it meant to me that you cared so much for Seamus too.

To end on a more upbeat note, today I received my first royalty check for the book. The check was larger than the original advance from the publisher (a very good thing in the publishing world) and a pleasant surprise since it’s a check only for sales of the book from October to December 2012.  Again, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of you for your support of our little book. Seamus’s inspiration lives on.

Man, woman and beagle winking

Thanks, all.

He’s Famous and He Knows It

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Seamus the Famous for all eternity

Chris and I escorted Seamus to the Rainbow Bridge this afternoon. He went peacefully while we both held and petted him and told him what a funny, fantastic, inspirational and awesome dog he had been.

Seamus had gone to work with me yesterday and we were able to spend the day together. He was moving slowly but still enjoying his meals and little walks out by the pond at my office complex. We came home and had a nice dinner together. But by late evening his breathing became very quick and shallow. It was clear that he was uncomfortable. He was trying to remain upright–an indication of fluid in the lungs–but was very tired. I stayed up with him much of the night and he seemed to stabilize until eventually we were both able to sleep. This morning we took him to the vet, who started the process to remove the fluid from the lungs. Unfortunately, the fluid was blood and it was clotting blood, which meant one of the tumors had burst. Seamus was in respiratory distress and I promised I wouldn’t let him suffer, so we didn’t. Chris and I both left work immediately and were with him until the end. He passed peacefully, as we had promised him.

Seamus was a once in a lifetime dog and we’ve all been through so much together, heartbroken doesn’t begin to cover our feelings right now. I’m taking comfort in the many memories, the fact that he inspired so many and that I was able to share his story with all of you.

Seamus Luxury Leisure  Danger Trouble Rhyne Kern has left the building. But he will never leave our hearts.

Thank you all for your support through this very difficult time.

An Update I don’t Want to Write

Friday, March 8th, 2013

This will be the hardest blog post to write to date. And given how this blog started that’s saying a lot. There is no easy way to say this, and I’ve been avoiding it for weeks now, so I’ll just have to say it, because I think you all will want to know.

Seamus was again diagnosed with cancer. This time it’s an advanced stage melanoma and he has several inoperable tumors in his lungs. We found out just before I left for India (and believe me, I almost didn’t get on the plane).  We had noticed that Seamus’s breathing was getting a bit shallow and he had slightly (he’s still Seamus, so this is a relative term) less energy. We took him to our regular vet and tests showed reason for serious concern. We were referred to an oncologist and back we went ….Veterinary Cancer Group in Culver City. The place I took Seamus when he was first diagnosed 8  years ago. Only the appointment we were able to get was at 11a.m  on February 14th (right, Valentine’s Day…at least it wasn’t Christmas).  My flight to India left at 11:50a.m.  After much discussion, Chris dropped me at the airport and took Seamus to see the oncologist. He called me with the diagnosis as I stood in line to board the plane.  Seamus has perhaps only 2 to 4 months to live. If he responds to chemo, maybe 6 months.  There is nothing else they can do.

I suppose one day I’ll discuss my trip to India. As you might imagine, I was not in a good state of mind when I arrived, and the jet lag,  living conditions, culture shock and weather (it was cold and raining) did not help. But I’m home now and I can tell you that Seamus is still Seamus– he has less energy and has lost some weight, but he still has a healthy appetite and howls for his food (and at the gardeners), cuddles and demands attention. Chris and I both took him for his second chemo appointment today and I got to hear the diagnosis myself. Then we took Seamus to a holistic pet nutritionist.

While Seamus dined on a lunch of wild pheasant, organic kale, spinach and pumpkin seed, we discussed options for making Seamus’s quality of life as good as can be for the time he has left. For a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that I know what it’s like to be on chemo, we will likely discontinue the chemo and instead use holistic methods including one heck of a nice diet. The holistic practitioner agrees that Seamus can’t be cured–it’s all an issue of quality of life for as long as we can get. I’m hoping for the 6 months, but whatever it is, I won’t let Seamus suffer. I want the best for him and I just don’t think chemo is it. If I had only 6 months left, I darn sure wouldn’t spend it on chemo.

When I was in India, I had this moment of stillness…of peace. And it was this moment:

My perfect moment


We arrived at the Taj Mahal at sunrise, but so did a huge crowd of people.  I stood at the entrance lost in the bustle, uncomfortable and overwhelmed. Our guide must have noticed because he took me by the arm, moved through the crowd and cleared a space for me. He said, “Kneel down here to take your photo.” When I knelt down, this is what I saw. That’s not someone’s pet. That’s a wild dog (they’re everywhere in India). And there he was peacefully, naturally just drinking from the pond utterly undisturbed by anyone…at the 7th wonder of the world.  I wondered if everyone else was seeing this or if it was just me…my own little perfect moment.  And for the first time (we’d been there nearly a week at this point), I felt a sense of calm. Of peace. I felt as though this was a message somehow–not a big “Seamus will live” message, because, I know, he won’t. But there was some meaning.  The was a reason I saw this, when so many others didn’t. And now I think it’s this… nature will take it’s course and all we can do is make it as peaceful as possible. I can’t interfere or change things and running back and forth to Los Angeles for injections of poison and dosages of steroids is not a peaceful or natural act. Instead, we’re going to enjoy the moments we have.  For as long as we have them.

There’s a much harder blog post to write in my future, but we’re not there yet. We’re here now. And we’re good. But I wanted you all to know what was going on, because I know so many of you have followed us on our journey and cheered us on.  We still need that cheering.

The Beagle Goes National!

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

I know we’ve been absent from the blogosphere, but that’s because we’ve been busy on book tour. Updates soon, but I just wanted to let you know quickly that Seamus and I will be appearing on CNN!! Set your DVR or watch CNN Newsroom Sunday live at 4pm (Sunday, November 25th).

Here’s Seamus on set:

Seamus gets even more famous–on set at CNN’s LA bureau

He’s such a natural (ham)!

The Canine Mammary Tumor Program

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

This is just so full of awesome that I had to share: The Penn Vet Shelter Canine Mammary Tumor Program. Be sure to click through and read the article to see just how animals should be a part of science–when it’s helping them! As an added bonus, it helps us too.


Logo belongs to Penn Vet (and isn’t it cute??)


This goes in the “reasons to wag a tail” file.

Seamus’s Battle with Canine Cancer

Friday, September 14th, 2012

There is no easy way to say this so let me just start with, Seamus is fine and resting comfortably, but we did, finally, have to have his left eye removed. It happened yesterday. The tumor got aggressive two weeks ago and his eye was very inflamed. Increased steroid drops and pills seemed to back things down and in fact a week later the pressure in his eye was down. So I was hopeful. But this past Tuesday afternoon I was home because we were having some repairs done around the house. Seamus was with me. Late in the afternoon, as I stood talking to the handyman, I looked down at Seamus and noticed he was squinting. And his eye was red. I gave him the eyedrops. The next morning when we woke Seamus’s eye area was the size of a golf ball. Chris whisked him off to the eye specialist and we learned the pressure had shot up and it was time to remove the eye. The vet assures me that Seamus had lost sight in that eye awhile ago and at this point removing it would be getting rid of a pain and annoyance for Seamus.  We scheduled the surgery and it happened yesterday.

I went to pick Seamus up post-op at about 4pm. They told me he had come through the surgery with flying colors and was doing well. Then they gave me a list of possible, normal side effects from the anesthesia and medications. They suggested he might not feel like eating until the following morning, and that was okay. Now, Seamus and I have been through a lot of medical procedures together so I did think “that will be very surprising. In fact, if he does not want to eat, I will be alarmed…no matter what they tell me.” I said something to that effect but they assured me, the anesthesia usually kills the appetite.

Then they brought out my little pirate–complete with a patch over his eye and a bandage around is leg where the catheter was, and, of course, a cone on his head. He looked up at me, wagged his tail and then curled into me as I bent down to pet him. I was so relieved to see him. He cuddled for a short while and then immediately walked over to where he knows they keep the jar of cookies and looked up in that direction. When no one immediately gave him a cookie, he gave a little barky howl. He got a cookie. And he ate it. Which is when I knew he would be just fine.

I’ve been home with him ever since. He got a small meal last night (okay and a treat or two) and I slept downstairs on the couch last night with him. Normally we all sleep upstairs in the master bedroom, and Seamus has free access to go downstairs and out the doggie door in the laundry room. But the cone won’t fit through the doggie door, so I wanted to be easily available to open any doors whenever he needed–and of course he needed it at 2:30 in the morning. Let’s just say he went back to sleep more quickly than I did. And then he woke me at 6:30 for breakfast. Naturally, I obliged the little guy. And then Chris came downstairs and gave Seamus some roasted chicken.  He’s been very cuddly and wanting lots of long petting massages (Seamus I mean; well, Chris too, but Seamus actually got the massages) and mostly just resting comfortably. I have the air conditioning on especially for him. (Well, and it’s supposed to reach 107 here today.)

As usual, Seamus is handling this with moxie and aplomb. He is now cancer-free again and that’s what’s important. He even managed excellent timing. We did the photo shoot for Woman’s World on Sunday and his eye looked just fine. Then the problems started and the surgery occurred. He’ll need to wear the cone for 10 to 14 days and then should be just fine. They even shave a smaller area, keeping in mind that he has appearances to make for “his” book. Those appearances start on September 30th–just a few days after his “all clear” date. That’s Seamus for you–a trooper who loves the limelight.  Now, if his mom could just relax about all this…

Seamus resting post-op

It’s been a bad week–my car air conditioning also went out (did I mention 107 degrees??) and that’s particularly annoying because of the 107 degrees I just had it “repaired” 3 weeks ago. And those home repairs I mentioned aren’t cheap. Who knew I’d scheduled that for the same week  Seamus’s surgery and  my car air conditioning collapse!?!! But, Seamus is fine. He’s comfortable. I’m home and getting caught up on other things (nothing that costs any more money!!!). And…in the midst of all of this, this arrived:

Box of Books: The Dog Lived (and So will I)

The real, published, first editions of “The Dog Lived (and So Will I)” coming soon to a bookstore near you.

Yep. Those are the “real” books. Not advanced reader’s copies. Those are them. They. It. MY BOOK!! And isn’t that the cutest dang cover you’ve ever seen? See, I’m trying once again to take Seamus’s lead and recognize our half full glass. And trying, once again, to remember…The Dog Lived. And So Will I.

A Cancer update–Canine and Human

Friday, August 31st, 2012

We’ve had quite the week here.

Beagle relaxing

Seamus August 31, 2012

On Monday I went in to UCLA for a mammogram check-up. It’s been 3 years since I finished treatment, and 3 years 8 months since I heard the words “Highly Suspicious of Malignancy” following a mammogram. Mostly, I don’t think about “recurrence” or even “cancer” in the sense that it might apply to me again one day. Heck, sometimes I forget I even had it. Sometimes. But, right before an appointment, I start to think about it again. And about how awful cancer is. Just a few weeks ago someone I knew, someone who lives in my same town and was diagnosed with breast cancer about a year before I was, passed away from cancer. She was also an animal lover and donated lots of time and money and heart and soul to the Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center and The Pink Ribbon Place, two groups that I also volunteer with. So Linda was on my mind as I prepared for my check-up.

But also, Seamus’s eye was starting to look pretty bad. And Saturday evening he started squinting a lot, and the third eyelid (you know, the one that makes dogs look like they’ve rolled their eyes back into their heads?) came up–on both eyes. By Sunday morning he looked a bit better.  And although he didn’t seem to be in any pain, I still didn’t like the looks of things. I called the emergency clinic. They told me not to give him anymore eyedrops, in case it was a scratch, and to call the clinic on Monday to get him in as soon as possible. He looked almost back to normal Monday morning, except the eye was red. I called the clinic and scheduled him for Tuesday morning. Then we took him to Ruff House doggie day care to watch him Monday while we went to my check-up. I was so worried about Seamus, I forgot to worry about myself.

Well, right up until the mammogram started.

This was a new tech–well, new to me. Remember, I’ve had more mammograms than the “normal” person my age would have had, so I can recognize the techs. When I get a mammogram they put a little marker on the scar on my right breast (so the radiologist knows to expect something “weird” there, I assume.) She didn’t do that, so I mentioned it and she stared at my breasts and said “I don’t see it.” Which is both nice and frightening. I pointed the scar out to her (it is well off to the side, nearer my armpit than one might expect and my surgeon, as we all know, did a fabulous job, so as scars go, it’s not so bad). Then she stared again and said “It was on your right? But this one,” she points to my left breast, “is smaller!” Um, thanks?  (Side note since some of you lucky folks might not know this– radiation, which I had lots of on the right side, can make a breast both firmer–scar tissue!–and bigger (swelling? I don’t know.) But apparently this tech thought that if something was removed from my breast it should be smaller than the other one. I don’t know. And this wasn’t the time for a discussion.) Now I can laugh about that conversation. But at the time all it did was flood me with memories of being a breast cancer patient. No thanks. Can we just move along?  And we did. Mammogram ended, wait for the radiologist ended, and I was once again in an exam room with a doctor looking at my mammogram…telling me all was clear.

Phew. I’m good for another year.

Chris and I stuck to our “doing something fun” post-doctor appointment tradition and went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and then met up with some friends for a vegan meal at Sage in Echo Park. Very good food and company, which is always a good thing.

But the next day it was Seamus’s turn. I’m sorry to say, Seamus’s appointment did not go as well as mine.

Dog resting

Seriously guys, cancer sucks.

The cancer cells seem to be taking over his left eye and he can no longer see out of it. This explains some poorly executed left turns of late, and he’s ran into my legs on occasion. While he is not in pain at this point, obviously we do not want to let it get to that stage. The eye will be monitored and if pressure continues to build, we will have to have the eye removed. That’s likely to happen sooner rather than later.  We’ll monitor it carefully and do what’s in his best interest, of course. He goes back Tuesday morning for a pressure check and if it’s up, we’ll be scheduling a surgery. The vet tells me that Seamus is already adjusting to seeing out of only one eye and other than recovering from the surgery he won’t know a difference–he’s been not seeing out of that eye for awhile and once it starts to irritate him (the pressure) he’ll just know that post-surgery an irritant is gone. I hope that’s the case and it does make sense. They also insert a silicone “ball” that prevents the area from caving in, so it will look like Seamus is winking, rather than a gash or sunken area. We’re also thinking Seamus can totally rock an eye patch.  The silver lining, I suppose, is that the cancer is fully contained in the eye. So removal of the eye is removal of the cancer. And that little bastard cancer will be completely out of our lives again. And it had darn well not be back. I’m now that much more committed to a vegan diet for me and a healthier, natural diet for Seamus (Chris is eating much better too, but he’s a long way from vegan.) I’m also changing up what sort of household products we use (once one starts looking at it–it is simply horrifying how we put harmful chemicals in just about anything. It really needs to stop. It’s no wonder cancer is so pervasive.)

In the meantime, Seamus and I will be featured in a national magazine and they are sending out a photographer for a photo shoot sometime between Sept 1 and 10. I’m hoping it occurs before the surgery. I can’t disclose which magazine just yet, but I can tell you we  (the book/ Seamus/ me) will be in at least two national magazines in October and at least one  in November. We’ll also be in our local Inland Empire magazine in October. Yeah, he’s famous and he knows it. This eye thing, it’s just a bump in the road (or, um, eyeball.)

But man, I hate cancer.

Fighting Canine Cancer

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Seamus and I had a busy, busy weekend. The book isn’t out yet, but you know…cancer still exists. And there are some good organizations out there doing something about it, so we joined in.

Saturday evening I went to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. This is really a spectacular event. If you’ve never been to one, it’s time to go. They take place all over the country. You can find one near you here: Relay for Life  The relay goes on for 24 hours. Various teams set up decorated booths selling items to raise funds and have fun (at times, it can seem like a carnival!) and at all times someone from the team is out walking the track in a walk-a-thon. The event I attended, in Chino Hills, raised over $200,000 for the American Cancer Society. I was there with the Bark for Life team:

Woman with giant inflatable dog

Go Team!

Bark for Life is another American Cancer Society event–much like relay for life (except only 4 hours) but you bring your dog(s)!! Seamus and I will be the Grand Marshalls at the Chino Hills Bark for Life on October 20, 2012. It’s going to be a great time! (Oh, and hey, note my “Cancer Vixen” t-shirt?).

Then Sunday we were off to the 12 Million Dog March in Los Angeles.  12 Million Dogs a year are diagnosed with cancer. I think we can all agree that’s way too many. The Riedel & Cody Fund puts on this event to raise funds to help dogs diagnosed with cancer when their human companions need a little help with the vet bills. It’s a great organization. The Riedel & Cody Fund was co-founded by Mark Tillinger and David Duchemin — both who lost their beloved dogs to cancer. So of course, Seamus and I (and Chris this time) were happy to help out. We donated these great gift baskets (wine from Forgotten Grapes!) with fantastic t-shirts donated by Be Your Own Spot (seriously, a t-shirt that says “Wine Spot” and has a dog on it? Did they just make it for me?? I also love the “Sun Spot” and “Adopt a Spot” shirts…ooh, wait…also the Coffee Spot shirts! I just love this company!) and advance reader’s copies of the book. And then all three of us showed up to meet, greet, hand out bookmarks and I did a little reading–only the second time I’ve read my writing to a “general public” crowd. (Considering there was a lot of music playing and general excitement all around, I think I did OK.)

Wine Spot t-shirt and The Dog Lived gift basket

All my favorite things

Set up 12 Million Dog March in Los Angeles

Getting ready for all the excitement!

Okay, so the title of the book was slightly off…there I was, on a reading schedule!

Ready to read! (Okay, no, this was after…and both people I read to really, really appreciated it…I think.)

Robyn Zander of Cheap Trick performs

A View from above

A busy but really good weekend. Luckily, after the 12 Million Dog March, we were able to join some friends, their beagle and corgi and a bottle (or, um more) of wine for a very relaxing evening. Ahhhh, all in a good weekend’s work.


P.S. 12 Million Dog March will be in Atlanta and Chicago in the Spring. If you’re in those areas…you really should go. And bring your pooch!


The Dog Lived (and So Will I) Book Launch

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

So this is it. The “official” book launch party:


Come Party with us and celebrate the launch of “The Dog Lived (and So Will I)”–a fundraiser for The Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center

YOU ARE ALL INVITED!! More events coming soon, including a cocktail party benefiting The Pink Ribbon Place on October 2nd at The Salted Pig!

Not a Book Report–A Beagle Report

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

We interrupt  all the book news to bring you much more important beagle news…

Seamus had a check-up with the eye specialist and….everything looks good! Pressure was down, eyes look clear, tumor does not appear to be growing. And clearly Seamus is in no pain or even discomfort. The steroid eye drops, plus a healthy diet and cancer-fighting supplements seem to be doing the trick! I’m so happy for him (and me…it’s not easy being the mom of a patient!).  His surgery was six months ago, so I’m feeling hopeful that things are in check. Also, he is now officially enrolled in a study of cancer-fighting supplements. So we look forward to helping out science and Seamus all at the same time.

Seamus getting ready for his first book signing

In other important news, Seamus will be with me signing books at the American Librarian’s Association annual conference at the Anaheim Convention Center this weekend. We have a stamp made up of Seamus’s actual paw print. Super, super cute. Expect photos. Chris will be there as the beagle-wrangler since we expect the librarians to be far more interested in meeting Seamus than me.

And finally (Seamus is a busy, busy dog), Seamus wants to get married. Well, sort of. See he’s entered a little contest to be the lucky groom of Baby Hope Diamond–the rescue pup of Animal Fair magazine founder Wendy Diamond (whose long-term dog and magazine mascot Lucky, passed away from cancer just two weeks ago).  The wedding is a fundraiser for the Humane Society of New York and it will set a Guinness Book of World Records for the most expensive pet wedding! All in good fun (everything is being donated). If you’d like, you can VOTE FOR SEAMUS by clicking on that link (note, you may need to scroll down and see where he’s entered as one of the potential grooms.  No cost and you only have to vote once, it’s not one of those “come back every day things.) Seamus would appreciate it (if, you know, he could read and all). (Diva Shasta, if you are reading this, pay no attention. It’s just a publicity stunt. Sexy famous beagles like Seamus need to do this sort of publicity thing. ;-) )

That’s it for now. Must get ready for Seamus’s big appearance–he loves him some sexy librarians! Wait…no, that’s Chris.