T.G.I.F.

Despite the fact that it is becoming increasingly clear that we are not recognizing the Summer of Lincoln this weekend, as in we don’t seem to be going to the cabin, I still have high hopes for the next couple of days. After all, I don’t need to swim to have fun; swimming just makes it a guarantee. When you get right down to it, no matter where we are, it’s still the weekend.
 
That means we don’t have to get up at 5 a.m. It means the doors are open and we can come and go as we please. And, most importantly, it means lots of one on one time with my Mom and Dad, and this is pretty much always fun for us. My Mom told me the other day that we have to make sure to appreciate the good days. She said that just like our sadness has no basement, our happiness has no ceiling. I take this to mean that everything is going pretty well for me, considering my diagnosis and all.
 
My Mom told me a secret the other day. I think she told me because she felt guilty for making me wear that stupid life jacket again. She seriously tried to convince me it was like a super-hero cape and would give me super-hero floating powers…like I’m dumb enough to fall for that.  Heeelllooooo….I’m a golden retriever, not a simpleton. Evidence below, btw. At least she got me a vest in a more original color than that silly orange.


 


Anyway, I digress. Her secret is that she doesn’t like to run with the new dog, Murf. When my Mom and I would run, as I’ve mentioned, I didn’t even need a leash. Evidently Murf, is a VERY BAD LEASH DOG, and she yanks my Mom all over the place, which is very disruptive to the serenity my Mom is trying to achieve during her run. So, my Mom is running without a dog again. I wish I could say I was sorry, and I am a little ashamed to admit it, but I sort of like that I can’t be replaced. It’s selfish, I know, but I’m secretly glad that it didn’t work out with Murf.  Also, I REALLY like the fact that when my Mom puts on her running clothes, I’m not the only dog getting left behind. Silly Murf, if only you were as smart as me everything could be so great for you.
 
At least I’m going for a walk every day. It’s not the same as running, but it’s still nice to get out into the neighborhood again.  I heard my Mom tell the neighbors that it’s sort of tough being in limbo about my diagnosis, but then she also mentioned that it’s not like somebody stamped an expiration date on my behind, and cancer or no cancer, you can never really know when your time is up. She’s right, and it just reinforces the policy I’ve always had. Go forth, wag, and be happy, is what I think. It reminds me of this saying she told me once, “The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.”  Henry Miller

It’s been a week since my last chemo, and even though my Mom was a little worried she’d let me over-do it at the lake last weekend, I’m feeling great.  When I’m feeling great, I’m happy, and when I’m happy, then everyone is happy. Around here, happiness seems to be sort of contagious, which makes me really glad about what my Mom said earlier about our happiness having no ceiling. And if there’s no ceiling, this means we can all fly, right?

This is me and our great neighbor, George, at the cabin. I’m still playing ball, as you can see. Murf and Quasi are watching the fun, but look who has the ball!

Acceptance, lessons, and courage…

I had my second dose of chemotherapy yesterday. It’s really not so bad. The people at the hospital talk all kinds of baby talk to me. Even though it’s a little silly, since I feel so great, I still flip over onto my back and give them my best relaxation pose.

While we were at the vet, I heard her tell my Mom that she was 95% positive about the osteosarcoma diagnosis. About now, we’re all wondering if my leg was chopped off for nothing, but my Mom says that what’s done is done, and now we are going to stay positive, keep the faith, and go about trying to save my life. I sure am glad to hear that, and it reminds me of this saying she told me once…”You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.”  Eleanor Roosevelt.

Of course after chemo, we jumped in the truck and headed back to the cabin to continue our Summer of Lincoln. The life jacket is back out, and I’m a little suspicious, but I have a lot of faith in my ability to communicate with my Mom through telepathy, and I’m sure I can convince her that I really don’t need it. Sometimes if I think a thought hard enough, she seems to understand. I’m not sure how, but it works more often than not.

If I’m being honest, we seem to be on the same wavelength a lot of the time. It’s almost like we share the same thoughts somehow. Let me give you an example; a couple of weeks ago we were here at the cabin, and the sun was out, but the wind was really blowing. My Mom was drinking her morning coffee, looking out the big window toward the lake.

Funny thing is, so was I (the looking, not the drinking). I think we were both wishing that the wind would die down so I could go swimming, but then this bird caught my attention. It was a swallow, and it was just floating in the same place. It didn’t so much as flutter its wings, but it had figured out the wind somehow, and was managing to stay in the exact same position, hovering  just above our deck. It was like something I’ve never seen ever before. I really don’t know how to explain it, except to say that it seemed like a sort of miracle. You almost know  that nobody would ever believe if you tried to tell them.

It was one of the things that you are almost afraid to talk about, because you don’t want it to seem less spectacular in description than it was in real life. One of those things whose beauty and wonder is multiplied, and not diluted, if you are lucky enough to share the experience with somebody. I swear, I watched that bird for about five minutes and it never moved a muscle yet it stayed exactly in the same place.  Suddenly, it occurred to me that my Mom would really love this, and I looked over at her to try to get her attention, and I realized that she was already watching the show.

I truly think that she noticed the bird because I was concentrating so hard on it and made her see it. Right about then she looked at me, right in the eye, and we both knew that we had just witnessed something only for us. This is one of the many ways I give my Mom hope. This is how I make her believe. It’s in the small things. The little miracles that are only there if you pay close attention. I’m here to make sure she sees them, and I’m so glad that she does. Before I came along, I’m not sure she slowed down enough to enjoy anything, so it’s extra important I do my job well so she’ll remembers the lessons even after I’m gone. I try to take my job very seriously, because I know that my Mom really has A LOT to learn.

Its just like this saying by this guy Marcus Aelius Aurelius, ” Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.”

Life jacket?…I don’t need no stinkin’ life jacket!

Well, my Mom and Dad took me back to the lake this weekend.  It seems like they are sticking with their “Summer of Lincoln” promise, despite the fact that it’s starting to look like I just might live forever.  My Mom isn’t quite on board with the “live forever” plan, but I’m doing my best to convince her that it just could happen. Even if it doesn’t, there is this one song my Mom always sings me and one of the lines she loves is, “You were a truth I would rather lose, than to have never lain beside at all”. I take this to mean that no matter how this entire thing turns out, she isn’t going to have any regrets.

I think it’s sort of like this – she feels like what we have is worth everything we’ve gone through. But here is the deal, we’re going through it together, and it’s just like the charm she put on my collar just before one of my many surgeries, “Life’s journey has brought me to you, and we shall continue on together”. It sure looks like I’m getting better, according to everyone who has an opinion, including, but not limited to lots of people with lots of letters after their names, also known as my doctors.

So, remember how I told you that my Mom and Dad were making me wear a life jacket to swim? And how I hated it more than just about anything. And how I made fun of Fletcher, and that wearing that stupid life jacket was the worst form of karma. And how I ignored them when they tried to put it on me. Remember all that? Well, guess what I did to the supposedly intellectually superior humans? If your guess is that I tricked them and went down to the lake to swim unsupervised and unprotected, then YOU ARE RIGHT!

My Mom and Dad were out doing boring stuff in the yard, and of course, I was right there with them. After a bit I decided to head off to the property next door (pre-surgery, this is where I used to go for privacy when I had to go), and they just looked at me and watched me go. My Dad was pretty happy that there wouldn’t be poo in our yard, so he didn’t even think twice about me going over there. Incredibly, neither did my Mom, and since I was feeling saucy and had a little extra bounce in my step, I figured I would just make a little unauthorized jaunt down to the water and take a swim.

No life jacket and no people. Just me and the water. Just like the old days. It’s just like this one saying my Mom told me….”A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature.  It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.”  ~Henry David Thoreau. Let me tell you this, I measured the depth of my nature, and it was amazing. AMAZING. 

For a while, things seemed totally back to normal; just how they always were before. My Mom and Dad outside, doing stuff, and me just being one with the water. After a while though, I decided it was time to make my way back to the house to see how much trouble I was in. If I’m being honest, it didn’t really matter…any amount would have been worth it to feel as great as I did while I was in the water.

 

What you are seeing in these pictures, is the aftermath of my little solo swimming jaunt. I got the “hands on the hips” look from both of them. However, you’ll notice that I’m no dummy, I just went straight into my three legged roll because I know they can’t resist me when I put all of my remaining legs in the air and wiggle.

The good news is that after my display, my Dad insisted that I be able to swim without my vest. He said that if I was going to be sneaking down to the lake anyway, I might as well get some practice in while he was around to help me. You’ll see just how great I swim in the videos. Sometimes I even amaze myself. I’m still working on my balance, and my Mom says that my back leg must be getting stronger and stronger as each day goes by because I’m such a lummox, and it’s basically holding me up all on its own.

Isn’t it awesome…me measuring the depth of my own nature and becoming one with the water again. It’s just like this saying my Mom told me once…”Live like there is heaven on earth”. I’ll promise you one thing….I’m sure going to try to do that. Not just for me, but for her too. She needs that.

And Comet, REALLY?? A harp? I’m with Holly, a really cool string bass seems like a way better fit.

Hope is the hardest love we carry…

That came from a poem that talked about herons and horses and solitude, and a lot of stuff, and at first all I could focus on was the heron (I am a bird dog, after all), but then I realized there was a deeper meaning in the other parts.  I interpret it pretty much like this…my Mom doesn’t wear hope very well. In fact, she wears it a little like a peon would wear a tiara…with great trepidation, very uncomfortably, and with a lot of distrust.
 
Here’s the deal…when I lived through my brain surgery, a tiny flicker something came alive in my Mom. I know that she thought I was going to die, and then, BAM, when I became the super-fantastic miracle dog, she sort of came around to my way of thinking, which is, frankly, that good things can happen. I’m here to prove it, right? I am a living, breathing, walking (it might be funny looking now, but it still counts), full-fledged MIRACLE. I heard her say that I embody hope, and if this makes her happy, then I agree; I do embody hope.
 
I think maybe one of my jobs is to make her realize that you can find hope in a lot of different places, and that you don’t always have to be afraid of it. Sometimes it can come in something as innocent and simple as your dog being able to swim again. Or the fact that your dog can walk up the stairs. Or even something as mundane as the fact that he still wags his tail so hard that the walls shake.  A while ago, just before she sent me in to my last surgery, she told me that her fear is born of love, and I took this to mean that if she didn’t love me so much she wouldn’t be so afraid about what’s going to happen to me.
 
I wish I could tell her not to be scared. At first, this was one of those times I wanted to be able to talk, but then I realized that words might just make the whole situation more complicated, and really it’s just as simple as love. I can show her that I love her without saying a word, so I climbed right up next to her on the sofa (even though it hurt my bad leg), and snugged in, with my head right on her lap. Sometimes she can be slow on the uptake, but not then. She figured it out right away, and in the end, I was glad I couldn’t say a single word.
 
So everyone, here we go again! My Mom and Dad were prepared for me to die. There really isn’t much hope that a dog will recover from osteosarcoma, right? I think that’s why we are having the Summer of Lincoln, in fact. But listen to this…we finally got my bone decalcification results back from WSU, and they couldn’t even find any cancer. At first I was a little freaked out by this, I mean, seriously, did they cut my leg off for nothing?
 
But then, as it was explained to my Mom (I was eavesdropping), they went back to my original biopsy and confirmed that indeed there were cancer cells in there, so the diagnosis stands. It turns out that my Mom may have been right about us catching this super early. Thanks to TPLO number two, I just may live. I don’t know if I told you or not, but that’s why we went to the vet so quickly when I started limping. My Mom thought something was wrong with my knee, so she didn’t delay, and that just may be the difference. Maybe that TPLO surgery and all it’s corresponding pain will be worth something after all.
 
So, I’ve started chemotherapy (I have to have five more treatments). Honestly, the chemo doesn’t really do much to me, so I can’t even say that I hate it. I’m still eating (of course my Mom says I’ve always been a good eater). I’m still totally mobile. I’m not fast, but I can still move out if I need to, and I have the video to prove it. My Mom says that I “Totally Rock”, and if I’m being honest, I’m starting to believe her.
 
 
Just so you know, we’re still taking things day by day. My Mom says this is the best approach, and while she may not be as carefree as I am, she’s gotten me pretty far, so I’m going to stick with her. I can already go for walks, and everyone says I’m getting around amazingly well (to be honest, it’s mainly my Mom who says that, but I think it still counts). Check out my videos for proof, though, just in case you needed it.
 
 
 
Plus, it’s as I said, I really have to make my Mom realize that it’s okay to believe in hope. I mean really, who better to convince her than me?

I can’t fly, but swimming is the next best thing…. The water is my sky. ~Author Unknown

My name is Lincoln…and I’m drug free. No more pills hidden in my food. No more narcotics tucked into treats. Drug free! Unless you count chemotherapy (which, by the way, we don’t. My Mom says anything with “therapy” in the name is therapeutic and not a drug”). I am officially done with all of my pain medications, and I am feeling pretty great. I got my sutures out exactly two weeks after my surgery, and just as I suspected, we were no sooner back from the vet, and we all loaded up and headed off to the cabin.  You all remember what’s at the cabin, right? THE LAKE!!
 
My Mom was a little worried about me riding in the back of the truck (just so you know, it has a canopy and lots of smooshy dog beds) because she was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep my balance since usually I like to stand up and stick my head out the window. Well, she was right about the balance, but she didn’t need to worry. We goldens are one of the smartest breeds, after all, so I figured out pretty quickly that for now anyway, most of my truck rides would be from the seated position. As it turns out, it really wasn’t so bad. I just relaxed and let my Dad do the driving, and pretty soon we were there.
 
It was getting a little late, so we just went in and ate dinner and then we headed over to the neighbor’s for cocktail hour. My Mom says that I am “amazingly ambulatory” considering the recent surgery and the slippery floor next door.   I took this to mean that I was a total rock star proceeded to go about trying to prove this fact to each and every person in the house. Once I made it through all the people, I just started again at the top of the list. Do you think they’ll figure out that I’m just doing it for the attention? I mean really, how great is it that there are five other dogs here and they are all being COMPLETELY IGNORED because they aren’t “amazingly ambulatory”? And the humans, honestly, they are practically fighting over who gets to pet me. If I play my cards right, this whole tripawd thing may actually work to my benefit.
 
Unfortunately though, the next morning, I found out some VERY BAD NEWS. Evidently my Mom and Dad have purchased a life jacket for me and they actually expect me to wear it when I go swimming. They seem pretty set on it, in fact. I did my best to convince them that it is really not a good idea. I laid down while they were trying to put in on me. I even walked away when I was instructed to stay (I just pretended like I had to go to the bathroom….works every time). I flipped over and give them my best back-scratching-butt-wiggle-in-the-grass. I rubbed on and leaned against them individually and collectively. All to no avail. They are making me wear the life jacket. Seems as though it’s not negotiable. Crap.
 
This is payback, I’m certain, for making fun of Fletcher when he had to wear it. Now,I wish more than anything I could take it back. But seriously, he couldn’t even swim, so he deserved a little ribbing, right?  Somebody must see my point….
 
Anyway, it’s on, and I feel silly and less than magnificent, even though my Mom is repeatedly telling me how incredibly handsome I am. We all make the walk of shame down to the lake, and before you know it, I don’t even care about the stupid thing anymore. All I can think about is the fact that my Dad has a ball which he is obviously going to throw into the lake FOR ME TO RETRIEVE.
 
I am on the verge of SWIMMING and there is no greater sense of anticipation. Once his arm goes back, I am completely and totally in my happy place because I know what is coming next. It doesn’t matter that I only have three legs; it doesn’t matter that I’m wearing this vest; it doesn’t matter that I’m not sure how I’m going to get out of the water. The only thing that matters is that I am going swimming, and not only that, once I get in, I’m swimming like I haven’t missed a beat.

It’s so much like heaven I just don’t even know how to describe it. Honestly, I don’t have to, because it’s just like this one quote from this guy named Aleksandr Popov…”The water is your friend.  You don’t have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move.”  This seems to be especially true now that I only have three legs. The water and I are one single entity, and it is blissful. It’s just too much for words to describe.
 

Don’t get me wrong, I know I have some balance issues, and some things to work on. Right now I have to have my Dad help me in and out of the water, but I’m hoping it won’t be so slippery in the summer, and that maybe I’ll be able to do it on my own. Plus, I could hardly believe it, but I heard my Mom and Dad say that the main reason I needed the life jacket was for the handle to make sure I don’t fall, and not because I couldn’t swim. What a complete and total relief!! For a second I was afraid they thought I couldn’t swim any more. Sometimes I need to give them more credit. They really do know me pretty well.

After the swim, I did some posing for pictures on the grass, and then I took a little nap. If I’m being honest, I did get tired a little more quickly than I normally do, and my Mom and Dad are pretty strict about me not over exerting myself.

My Mom has been a little protective lately. I guess she is wondering what could possibly go wrong now, and trust me, I’m sure hoping that we are done with surgeries. I could use a break and I’m sure my Mom and Dad could too. I did over hear them saying that we would be spending basically every weekend at the cabin this summer.  In fact, I heard my Dad say it was the “Summer of Lincoln”, and I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it seems like it’s going to include a lot of lake time. And it’s like I said before…The water is my sky, so I’m going to spend as much time as I can becoming one with the lake.

After all, it’s my happiest happy place.