Because. Everyday Is A Bonus.

A wise man once said to me, "For us now, the LKKs (Lao Kok Kok), everyday is a bonus."

I laughed when I heard that. This wise man never fails to crack me up with his sharp wit and humour. I did not think much of that statement till much later in the night when I was laying in bed and those words played in my head, "Everyday is a bonus".

Without doubt, I started thinking about Flapper. The average life span for a dog his size is 10-12 years and yes, like many pet owners, I do wish for Flapper (and Frodo) to live as long as possible - maybe 15? 16? 18? For as long as I, the human, live?

Wishful thinking, I know.

I decided to do up a fun age chart and OMG! All of them are officially 'Senior Pets' with Dumbo and Flapper going beyond senior. They are both officially 'Geriatric'.


adjective: geriatric

relating to old people, especially with regard to their health care.
"a geriatric hospital"

decrepit; very old or outdated.
"replacements for a geriatric locomotive fleet" 

Reality bites when I realized that even Frodo is officially in the 'Seniors' club.

I must confess that I was a tad bit upset after doing up this age chart. Even though I do say to my husband quite frequently that the smelly black one will outlive the boys but it's a different thing when it became blatantly clear that Frodo is now officially older (in human years).

I will brazenly and shamelessly admit it, I am a bias mama who practices blatant favouritism. Even the cats rank above Pebbles. So nope, I do not delight in knowing that she will outlive Frodo. And that's the truth. The whole truth and nothing but the truth.

The 'Cursed' Number 14

Dumbo turned 14 on his made-up birthday of 18th April. Dumbo was adopted on 18th April 2005 at the age of two years old - or so 'Uncle Choo' was told.

Prior to Dumbo's dramatic seizure episode, there was that tale tail about another 14 years old Miniature Schnauzer named Miko - the one that Frodo donated the blood too.

It happened on one of the human's #notalcoholicwednesday evening, 3rd May 2017, when I received a message about a friend's dunno-who-dunno-who needed a blood transfusion. And that dog was Miko. As it turned out, Miko was of positive blood-type so with the help of 'Uncle Nic' and friends, we picked both boys up and made our way down to the vet clinic. Flapper is considered over-the-hill for blood donation but that's okay. Himbo to the rescue.

That was perhaps one of the most dramatic blood donation experience of all. After the IV catheter was place on Frodo's leg and blood was drawn to ensure that he is a healthy donor, we sat at the waiting area to wait. There was a sudden flurry and I heard someone shout, "Do you want to resuscitate?"

I heard another voice shout, "YES!"

We ('Uncle Nic', his friends and I) whispered to one another, "Do you think it's that dog?"

The vet zoomed by followed by a woman in tears. That woman was Miko's owner. I whispered out to the gang, "The chance of survival is.... ". And I shook my head.

After a long while, the vet came out to explain that Miko had a cardiac arrest thus the transfusion will not proceed as planned. Then she asked if Frodo could standby for another dog who needed a transfusion as well.

"I have to work the next two days so I will not be able to bring Frodo back here. Since we are already here, please take the blood if you really need it.", I said to the vet.

She paused for a moment to consider and decided to proceed with the blood collection. I took Frodo in the room and made sure he was nicely sedated before leaving them to do their work. Yes, I'd rather Flapper over Frodo for blood donation just because Flapper can stay still for blood collection without sedation.

While waiting for Frodo, Miko and her owner came out. I was surprised to see Miko. She was looking alert and stable, certainly not like a dog who just had a cardiac arrest and resuscitation.

"How do you expect me to let her go when she looks like this?", Miko's owner said as she pointed at Miko.

I looked at Miko and nodded my head in understanding. I felt for Miko's owner, really. That is one of life's cruelest joke when a pet owner is asked to make that awful decision.

I always tell Flapper, "Please. When it is time for you to go, please just go. Please don't ever let me make THAT decision."

Not knowing what to say and to lighten the situation up a little, I asked her if it was okay for Flapper to 'say hi' to Miko. Uncle went to sniff her then laid quietly next to me.

Miko's owner excused herself and a short while later, she came to bid her adieu. She had decided to bring Miko home.

Goondu was still in the room....

The next day, I received a message from Miko's owner to let me know she had gone to another vet. She had gone back to the other vet, paid the bill for the blood collection and collected Frodo's blood as well.

I raised my eyebrow as I read the message. Collect Frodo's blood? I thought...? Never mind. So they claimed they had reserved the blood for Miko anyway. I just took it that Miko was fated to have Frodo's blood and praise God! Miko pulled through the night.

And so, Miko started her blood transfusion and I prayed for her.

That evening, her owner promptly updated me that Miko's "platelets count are back to normal and red blood count is now at 30 (morning was 17)" - and I quote. That's good, I thought. But I also knew Miko was not out of the red zone yet. I promised to continue to keep Miko in my prayers.

It turned out Miko's owner and I had a common friend! Our common friend went to visit Miko and took this photo for me.
Friday. Miko's owner attempted to call me but I missed her call. I thought something had happened to Miko. You know... in this day and age, one stops receiving phone calls unless it is some kind of emergency. Everything is Whatsapp these days. *guffaw*

Turned out, another dog at that vet clinic needed a blood transfusion too and wanted to use Frodo's blood. You see, the first vet had taken enough blood for three transfusions [for Miko]. So Miko's owner made a courtesy call to ask me if I was okay to let them have Frodo's blood. Of course I had no objection. If it could save another life, why not? And the blood was already there so it was surely a YES from me other than wondering if Miko might need it again.

I told her the decision was all hers as technically, the bag of blood belonged to her so she can decide what she wanted to do with it. Due to what she had just gone through seeking blood donors for Miko, her compassion went right out to the other dog's owner and graciously agreed to let them use Frodo's blood. Praise God, again!

In the meantime, Miko's maintained her platelets count and her red blood cells count has gone up to a healthy range of 37.  BUT Miko has started bruising badly and more tests needed to be done which I will not bore you with the blah-blah details. I just smiled when I saw the photo of Miko. Bruising is not a good sign. I continued to pray for healing and her recovery.

Saturday. Things started to look down for Miko - inflammation around her pancreas, liver and lungs. I did not know what to say to her owner other than to stay strong and assured her that God was watching over Miko.

Sunday, 7th May at around 11:30 pm - I received the sad news that Miko has gone to her forever home pain-free. Very very sad. Miko was a good girl. She made her own decision and spared her owner the agony of watching her grasp her last few breath. A good girl, indeed.

R.I.P. Miko.

You are a brave girl and fought a very good fight.

The next morning, I went in to work still affected by the news about Miko and I felt really sad for the owner. A willing owner who paid a huge price financially to treat Miko. I lamented about schnauzers pre-disposition to Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA), splenic tumours and God knows what else. Miko was the third schnauzer I've encountered in a short period of time that passed on.

It left me thinking about smelly very briefly....

And I silently gave thanks to God that Flapper has fully recovered from his aural haematoma and despite his yucky hips, he is still mobile and healthy.

Everyday IS a bonus.

Then I thought to myself, "Eh... Grumpy Old Man (Dumbo) not bad leh! 14 years old and despite of his health problems, he is still looking good!"

I smiled and cheered up, not realising I thought to myself a tad bit too soon.

The number 14 is cursed.

And Dumbo Owes Me 9 Lives

I was awaken by the unfamiliar ringtone of my new phone. In a groggy stupor state, I had problems picking up the call. I panicked a little when I realised the time. Getting phone call from home after midnight does not bode well. I immediately thought of human emergency.

'Grandma' called again and this time we managed to connect on the phone. She started describing what happened to Dumbo and his state at the time of call.

Dumbo had suffered a seizure - which later on I realized, 'Grandma' failed to tell me it was not ONE seizure but definitely TWO. She could not recall if there was a third seizure. Nevertheless, I had to decide what to do.... Should I....

1) Call my trusted advisor at this hour of the night and rush him into clinic? or;
2) Rush him in to a 24 hours vet clinic.

I already had my trusted advisor's number on my phone and I was all ready to press 'CALL'. But I hesitated. Something just held me back from calling her. I later found out that her daughter came down with high fever which kept her up that night so I thanked God for nudging me not to call her.

I thought about it rationally and decided to walk the talk. Dumbo's case is an emergency and it makes perfect sense to bring him in to a 24 hours clinic to stabilise. He needed immediate attention and will require intensive monitoring. 24 hours clinic is guaranteed to have a vet and nurse on overnight duty. Stablising Dumbo was of utmost importance at that point of time and I could always bring him to my trusted advisor in the morning.

So Uncle Choo, Auntie Lian and myself rushed Dumbo in to THAT 24 hours vet clinic-that-shalt-not-be-named. I will not dwell into this unimpressive visit which made me question about hospitalising Dumbo there. But most of all, we were not allowed to stay with Dumbo which disturbed all three of us greatly.

You see, Dumbo makes a horrible in-patient and that we (especially me) know. He will bite the carer if he is in pain or if he does not want to be handled, he can create a ruckus for being confined and in my words, he is an a-hole. I always tell the family in much disdain, "I cannot imagine how to hospitalise this one (Dumbo) when the day comes he needs it. He cannot be hospitalised at clinics.... you guys cannot keep him confined at home....".

In Dumbo's healthy state, he is a dog that I love to hate and hate to love. Not by any fault of his. The family spoils him rotten and perhaps apart from themselves, no one else finds Dumbo's behaviour endearing - especially me - which also taught me a very important in dog's training. If an owner does not see a behaviour as a problem, then there's nothing to train!

Anywoof, Dumbo's blood test came out 'fine' (so we were told) and he seemed pretty stable by then. I asked the vet if she thinks he is stable enough to go home in the meantime and she said yes. And the decision was made that we shall not hospitalise Dumbo there and well, he will hospitalise with ME instead.

And I mumbled those familiar words, "Dumbo owes me nine lives."

There's a love-hate relationship between Dumbo and me. When he's healthy, we do not give a hoot about each other. He will never look for me as he never gets his way with me and with the other 'doting member of family around', he will never come to me either. I could never see eye-to-eye with the family about Dumbo's behaviour so the day I got Flapper, we drew that line about 'Dumbo is your dog, Flapper is mine'.

And that was that.

HOWEVER, without doubt, curly-ears is a very very smart dog. For all our aloof love-hate relationship, I have one use - and perhaps the most important use - to Dumbo. This boy.... will only come look for me when he is sick and that is something the entire family can vouch for. The more sick he is, the more he will stick to me. He will NOT leave my side. That happened quite a few times that it made all of us learn one very simple fact about Dumbo - WHEN HE STICKS BY MY SIDE, IT IS NOT GOOD NEWS.

Dumbo has always been medically-fragile since we adopted him at that tender age of two. Truth be told, it was Dumbo that piqued my interest in dog's medical while Flapper ignited my interest in training. Dumbo.... is one of those dogs that gets hit by whatever medical condition possible and he will slap it to us in a dramatic fashion. He has a penchant for midnight. I call him the very expensive dog. And very fortunately for him, the family is dedicated to his health care. Despite his multiple health issues (we call it "heart attack" for the humans), the family trudges on with the treatments.

At the ripe old age of 14 years old, Dumbo has heart murmur and well, manageable slip-disc problem. And being a Cocker Spaniel, chronic ear problems. He goes for regular health screening (including echo for his heart) and I joked on his last blood test... it took him some 12-13 years to finally get good blood test readings!

There were little signs here and there that Dumbo COULD suffer from seizures one day... but no one can ever predict when it would happen. And it did, most unexpectedly in Dumbo's most expected dramatic fashion - on 9th May 2017 at midnight.

So Mr Grumpy Old Man, like it or don't like it, it is back to you and me.... AGAIN.

I am Dumbo's medical-emergency bitch.

And he owes me nine lives.

The Road To Recovery

On the way back from the clinic, I started thinking about how to set up for his 'hospitalisation'. Fortunately, I have a sizeable cage which I suspected (and hoped) Flapper's bed will fit nicely into. I prayed to God that GOM will not be an a-hole about being confined and he will be stable for the rest of the night morning whatever.

While waiting for the 'grandma' and 'grandpa' to arrive, my husband (who got woken up by the commotion) and I raised Dumbo up in prayer as he rested peacefully. Based on Dumbo's demeanour, it was highly suspicious he had suffered a stroke. Whatever the case was, he still needed care. Intense care. And I prayed that my colleague could to cover my shift so I can stay home to nurse this dramatic old man - which he did when I called him at more humanly hours called 8 am. He kindly agreed to sacrifice his precious off-day to help me out.

Grateful, I am.

Dumbo resting in his 'A' class ward which my husband later joked as Raffles Hospital for dogs. It was very stressful with Dumbo hooked up to fluids as he has an existing heart problem which has its own risk. So it was close monitoring by the hour.... for five nights.
Propping Dumbo up and flipping his resting side to promote blood circulation which was a battle as he tried to bite me every time I attempted to move him.

Morning came and I chased the 'grans' home to have their much-needed rest. My Whatsapp started to go on a rampage of concerned colleagues about Dumbo's condition. I was, more importantly, busy messaging my trusted advisor and sending her videos as she asked me about Dumbo's condition. Dumbo was ridiculously sedated (comatose-like state) throughout the morning up till around mid-afternoon even though no drugs were administered into him. The ever-so-greedy Dumbo Choo did not react to any food smell which got me even more worried. I later found out the reason for his comatose-state which got me fuming at THAT vet. The blood test, as it turned out, wasn't all that fine.

Anywoof, while watching over Dumbo, yet another O.M.G. moment struck me. It was 'Auntie Lian's' birthday! I quickly whipped out my phone and messaged her, "Your dog loves you very very much. Happy Birthday!"

Dumbo's timing is, what can I say, immaculate.

'Auntie Lian' later said, "I will never forget this birthday."

Bitter laughters.

We ended up celebrating 'Auntie Lian's' birthday with a pizza party on the 10th of May instead. Everyone was hoping that Dumbo would break out with his signature 'Happy Birthday' barking rendition but it did not happen.

Thanks to my husband who ran out to buy some food that Dumbo desperately needed, I prodded that boy awake to get him to eat. In his very sleepy state, he smelt the food and managed to navigate himself to eat. That's a good sign. At least he can still eat.

He perked up briefly after he ate but went back to sleep soon after. I have never seen Dumbo that quiet and peaceful which was a little odd but sad at the same time. At that point, I could only pray silently for his recovery.

Dumbo perking up slightly after eating but fell back to sleep shortly after.

The trusted advisor came by to assess Dumbo's condition and spoke about stroke and possible tumour (due to age). We spoke about diagnostic possibilities and treatments.... but it was still 'seizure watch' in the meantime.

What am I going to do without my trusted doggie advisor?

The 'grans' came back in the evening and Dumbo perked up a fair bit. By then, I had put him on a 2-hourly eating plan to slowly pump the much needed electrolytes and phosphorus into his system. The revised fluids therapy was working as well. After a worrying day of his comatose state, we cheered as Dumbo attempted to sit up on his own and managed to balance.

We cheered as Dumbo attempted to sit up on his own. He became aware of the humans' presence. This emotionally high-maintenance dog perked up when he noticed the 'grans'.

As most recovery goes, it was a roller coaster ride with this emotionally high-maintenance dog. It was a him and me battle every morning as I tried to get him out of bed to relief his bladder. With fluids infusing into him and his heart problem, he has to pee. The only time he was willing to pee in bed was the first day when he was too sedated and out of it to realise he had relieved himself.

As he regained consciousness, he held his pee. But this arthritic old man was in pain every morning, he would growl and try to bite me as I tried to move him. "Stupid grumpy old man", I would curse and swear as beads of perspiration came rolling down my head while battling with him alone. And that's why I said he is a sucky inpatient.

He was taken back to his regular vet clinic on the second day to have an x-ray taken when he rejected food completely. He also presented nystagmus which was worrying. As it turned out, Dumbo has spondylosis which explained his pain and sensitivity whenever I tried to adjust his sleeping position. The vet did acupuncture on him and he went back with injectable pain relief/anti-inflammatory, oral pain relief and another injectable to help with his guts motility.

After the medications effect kicked in, his voracious appetite re-emerged but he was still being picky about certain food. And the next day after that, he showed signs of nausea and became increasingly picky over food and water. So we added anti-nausea tablets as well. And he was still attached to fluids.

Five nights of fluid therapy = five sleepless nights. And I say again, Dumbo owes me nine lives.

As he became progressively better, I started to introduce short (very short) walks as part of his 'physio-rehab'. My home became child-care center with all that rubber alphabet mats being laid out to give him better grip and support as he moved. He was not able to move on his own without assistance but as he grew stronger, he was more willing to attempt walking with adequate make do support. He was also taken out just to sit down, breathe some fresh air and watch the world go by. Cooping him up 24/7 was not going to help stimulate him mentally. Even I was going nuts being cooped up with him.

Dumbo's home physio was learning to walk on these rubber mats. My proud 'mama' (I'm so not his mama) moment when Dumbo could balance on his own standing.
Dumbo on his last day of 'hospi' with me as he started to make superb progress and could slowly walk (with support) more. And yes, he still had a left head tilt.

When my trusted advisor came by to visit him on Thursday morning, she was pleased with his progress. Based on how quick Dumbo's recovery was, we could safely rule out stroke. Yay! And the diagnosis was peripheral vestibular disease which is caused by what-I-call his lousy curly ears and can also attributed by his age.

Good news, at last!

On the day of 'discharge', it was time for group shot. As much as Dumbo and I have a love-hate relationship, he became a part of my cozy home during his five nights stay. Yes Dumbo, once again, you me... love, no love.

Dumbo was discharged home on Saturday morning and he looked a whole lot better. I joked that he would never want to come back here again after almost a week long of stay with me. I have to admit that apart from our morning battles, Dumbo was well-behaved at my place. I had a sneaky suspicion he knew he was rehabilitating here...

Dumbo had one more round of IV injection so I went over to administer it before removing the IV catheter. It was a bitter-sweet moment. After I removed the IV catheter from Dumbo, he suddenly waddled himself to me in his very unsteady gait with that familiar playful look on his face. I quickly moved towards him to support him and he attempted to lick me.

There's this silent thing between Dumbo and me.... sometimes, I just know what he wants. And in that instance, I knew he was trying to tell me, "Thank you. I am much better. You don't have to worry about me anymore."

Think of me as delusional or some crazy dog woman, I don't really care. Sometimes, it is very hard to explain how this love-hate relationship with Dumbo works.

I am, after all, Dumbo's medical emergency bitch.

One Week Later....

Because. Everyday Is A Bonus.

So indeed, Mr Wise Man was spot on.

Everyday is a bonus - be it for humans or pets. And don't think it is only for the LKK (lao kok kok = old and stiff).... how many times have you heard about humans or pets who have gone too young, too early?

So for those who wonders why I am this crazy mama who creates these nonsensical adventures for the boys, it is just because I knew the moment Flapper turned 10, everyday is a bonus.  In fact, each day past Flapper's 6th birthday that he is still mobile, I give thanks. He is 10 years 8 months now.  It still overwhelms me daily as I watch him run, jump, swim, fetch.... things which I expected him to start struggling with due to his 'deformed' hips. So thank God Flapper is still active and mobile.

I give thanks for everyday that Flapper can still do this.

After this Dumbo and Miko life and death experience, it made me sit back to appreciate each day I have with the boys even more. There are good reasons why I create these adventures and do the collaborations that I do with the boys, for the boys.

My philosophy is simple - at least they die happy.

Just because.

Sincere thanks to:
  • My trusted advisors, Dr A and Dr P, for all their help and advise with Dumbo. Could not have done if without their support and help. And also for all the clinical support rendered.... deeply appreciate it. 
  • Mr Dolphin for sacrificing his off-day and covering my shift so I could stay home to nurse Dumbo while you battled through the day on my behalf.. I know. You love me. :P
  • Dr V for being my sounding board.
  • My husband for his incredible support and patience through those five nights.
  • Silversky Pets - That pet bed and those Chunky Core Centers! Neither you nor I thought that those simple gifts could end up playing an integral part of Dumbo's recovery. So thank you!
  • Last but not least, the most important person of all, GOD.

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