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Monday, November 8, 2010

Finding joy in the swirl of worries

We are in the information gathering and pondering part of this unexpected process of taking care of K. There are so many unknowns that cannot be nailed down that it’s very tough to decide what course of action to take. The toe bone that is being eroded by some nefarious agent, either bone cancer or a virulent infection, is too fragile to biopsy. Consequently, we are weighing our options without knowing the exact diagnosis. We’re talking to our veterinary experts and hoping to reach a decision soon. The odds are about 50-50% between bone cancer and a very serious infection.

K is in more pain than when she wore the cast or even than before her surgery. It’s tough for us to see but she still seems happy to soak up the small pleasures in life. She uses her soft bandage as a pillow as she snoozes.
In the evening, she seeks snuggles and love. Her fur is silky soft. I curl up with her, stroking her luxurious coat and smelling the piney scent of her fur. She is such a loving and sweet girl.

Each morning, K and I stroll out to the meadow for some time together in the sun. We walk together, knowing each other’s habits so well that no words are needed. K meticulously examines each dirt scrape or scent on a shrub. Sometimes she leaves a reply.
The elk herd has gathered in our neck of the woods, and the bulls are still jousting over the cows, a carryover from the recent rutting season up in the high mountains before they migrated down here. We hear the sound of stupendously heavy antlers clashing and see the herd surge in one direction and then another as the hulking males try to control their harems. Ethereal elk bugles arise from the distance at dawn and dusk, captivating the Labraduo.
The coyote pack mingles with the elk. Sometimes the elk ignore the canines and, at other times, they stampede to chase away the lightning-quick coyotes. It’s a beautiful dance but I’m guessing that it’s a dance of survival for some members of both species.

After my stroll with K, some mornings I am lucky enough to have time with R on the trails. He's an entertaining and loyal mountain biking partner. His energy lifts my spirits.
This weekend, I discovered that we have a mountain lion kill cached near one of our mountain biking trails. A red fox was ambushed by a lion and is hidden under a pine tree about 50 yards above my favorite trail. On Saturday, my wildlife expert friend and I placed a camera pointed at the half-eaten carcass to see what animals check it out. We suspect that the lion(s) have abandoned it but it will be interesting to see what creatures are captured by my trail camera.

When R and I pass the spot where the scent of the carcass wafts across our mountain biking trail, all the training we've done pays huge dividends. He's willing to "leave it" and come storming toward me. He looks like a flying lab sometimes!
Today, after I rode with R, I headed out for a short ride on my own, before rushing home for a phone consultation with a veterinarian. About halfway through my ride, I realized that I couldn't even remember passing through vast sections of the trail. I was focused on my swirl of thoughts about K rather than on the world around me.
At one point, I was shocked out of my pondering by the surprising sight of a skunk almost directly in front of me on the trail. He was a spotted skunk, the type that can live at high altitude, although he's only the third skunk that I've seen in a decade in our forest. Fortunately for me, he chose to flee rather than spray me.

That was a wake-up call, and I realized that I'd better pay more attention to the trail ahead of me!

Before heading home, I checked a couple of wildlife cameras. This cute mule deer buck had peered at one camera. Ignore the date and time on the photo - I accidentally reset everything when I briefly removed a battery.
Closer to home, my icon, the feisty and ever-hopeful bobcat, had visited. First, he investigated near our birdfeeders.
Then, close to an hour later, he exited our clearing via the trail behind our house. I wonder what he did for an hour?
This bobcat looks like the kitten who visited recently. He left no scrapings or other scent markings, suggesting that he's not a dominant cat. Rather, he's probably a young cat who is trying to fly under the radar, avoiding confrontations with the faster and stronger adults in the area.

Today, somehow, the forest calmed my wild swirl of fear and worry to some extent. For the first time since Friday, I felt some semblance of inner balance. I feel confident that we'll make the best decisions that we can for K with the available information.

For now, we'll try to find joy in each day that have together, knowing that the future is always tenuous. The uncertainties are just more obvious than usual due to the specter of bone cancer.


  1. We know

    And more importantly, K knows you will!

    We'll continue to keep all of you in our thoughts!

    Thanks for sharing those awesome pics - love the little skunk pal AND Khyra is still taken with the khytty!

    I got to see some of the pics Mom and Fred took of the elk just hanging out in St Marys/Elk County PA - way cool!

  2. I admire your last paragraph - a philosophy to live by. Your wonderful pictures and words are a blessing.

  3. Whoa - the skunks are pretty common around here and not our favorite creature. Oh well - nature is all of the animals.

    Yes, we know and K knows that you will make the best decisions.

  4. I wish we could say we've only seen three skunks here! They're pretty common around us and fortunately we've had no close encounters of the stinky kind.

    That picture of R is classic! Not only are his ears prepared for lift off, but his tail propeller is going full force, too!

    I know that you'll come up with the best option for K. I hope that things all work out soon and you have some certainty with it, instead of being in limbo!

  5. K is still in our daily thoughts....and hoping for the most positvie outcome!


  6. When enlarged, the photo of the sky and bare trees is so like a painting, you have such beautiful scenes to enjoy with K and R!

  7. No doubt you will make the best decision - your love will guide you. We are sorry it has to be so hard, but we are happy that R can put a smile on your face (and ours too) with those flying ears:)

  8. What a close call with the skunk.
    I have been sprayed and it is no fun.
    Mother Earth touched you today,, that was her calmness that swept over you for that moment.
    The answers will come to you, regarding precious K.
    Waiting for the answers and weighing each, is the hard part.
    Looking at R getting ready for take off with those flying ears,made us smile.
    Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and feeling with us, as we know you exhaugsted

  9. I am keeping K and you in my thoughts, and know that when faced with a decision you will make the right one, whichever road it may lead you down.

    I am glad the skunk chose not to spray you:)

  10. It is such a wake up call to be on the cusp of such scary decisions. I don't think you're in any danger of missing any important moments - you live them with your kiddos each and every day. Much love to K and positive thoughts sent your way!

  11. We always seem to think that in this day and age of sophisticated veterinary medicine we will always find answers. Sadly, that is not true and causes us such great distress. So sorry K is having more pain and hoping it will get better as she becomes used to having the cast off.

    Kudos to R for stepping up to the plate. Your hard work with him is really paying dividends.

    All of you are still in my thoughts as you go through this troubling time.

  12. How can skunks be so cute and so stinky! My mom says the same thing about me sometimes! That's a little joke to make you smile.

    We are still sending healing thoughts to K.

    Your pal, Pip

  13. We are still keeping you all in our prayers.

    We have had 2 bad encounters with skunks. We keep the "shampoo recipe" taped to the inside of the cupboard door so we don't lose it!

    Emma Rose

  14. We have you and K in our prayers and we send you positive thoughts too. You have very interesting animals over there and it's a good thing the skunk made the right decision and fled.

    Crossed paws across the miles,

    Piappies Fudgie, Princess, Frappie, Mocha, Sugar, Wai-Pai & Wai-Max

  15. Here's sending you really good thoughts from this side of the world for a really positive outcome!

    Abigail the Yorkie x

  16. Glorious pictures, as always, and a wonderful spirit with which to nurture K through this terribly difficult time. We are crossing all of our paws for you both.

    Woofs and Purrs,
    Tommy and The Chans

  17. It all seems so, so familiar. The books can tell you about possible destinations but they can't really help with planning the route. We'll raise another glass to fortitude and good health tonight.

  18. KB, I just read the comment you left and rushed over. This is not at all what I wanted to hear and not fair! I'm in a swirl of my own pain with a dental emergency to take take of, so I don't have the physical stability to check my emotions--I'm just feeling so angry and sad that you and K are going through this.

    Keep finding those joys. My first morning walk again with Kona this morning will be for you and K. Paws crossed.

  19. So, Little Pepe LePew walked with you for a while. Want to be most careful of the little nipper!

    I'm so sorry to hear K has more pain and like others, I have all confidence in you to do the right thing for your girl.

    Cheers and hugs,

    Jo, Stella and Zkhat

  20. So many animals you see, either through cameras or by sight - I've never even heard of a spotted skunk - interesting looking and glad for you too, that he/she didn't get you or R! We think of you and K so much and KNOW that the answers to the decisions you must make will come with time and what K will tell you (and the vet too...). You have a remarkable relationship with each other. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

    big Hugs xoxoxoxo
    Sammie, Avalon, Oz and Mom

  21. the unknowns. so frustrating. seems like the odds of treating for an infection versus blasting the immune system without all the knowledge might be something the vets would consider or offer out as a treatment plan w/o knowing everything. still it's nice to know exactly what it is...

    i went through this with Juno last year when we never figured out if her high fever for 2 weeks was the result of a serious infection or a virus that went into autoimmune disease (because she seemed to get WORSE on metacam)...yet without any confirmation of an infection, broad spectrum antibiotics (or perhaps it was just time and NO anti-flamatory meds) seemed to knock it out of her. to this day we don't know if it was viral/automimmune or bacterial. we chose the safe way to treat with antibiotics because if it was bacterial and we treated with steroids, it would have killed her.

    but ya, i'm still frustraed not knowing. because here i have a dog with hip dysplasia and i'm not certain i can give her an anti-inflamatory (other than accupuncture) to treat it!

    I just hope for you and K you can get some answers. it sounds so painful. hugs to her.

    ps. I LOVE that photo of the darks skies! gorgeous.

  22. Even though you feel confidence, this has got to feel like literal pins and needles. Nice that you were able to sneak out amidst the stress and enjoy the outdoors and avoide Pepe le Peuw!

  23. Aw. Sweet photo of K, head on cast. Our thoughts are with you all.
    The rides with R and his recalls are great. We will be attending the Recall Madness class at our local Humane Society this month. Really looking forward to it.
    Cherish every day :)

    Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
    Sierra Rose

  24. Never seen a spotted skunk -- what an odd little fellow! Looks almost like a miniature badger or somesuch.

    Best thoughts and prayers for K. Hope all things are resolved soon -- because you're right, it's the uncertainty that wipes you out as much as anbything.
    - - - - - - - -
    dog beds and more

  25. I know I'm grasping at straws on your behalf, but I keep thinking there must be SOME test that would help you know more than 50-50. Wouldn't her CBC show signs of infection, if it's that much of a scary one?

  26. Kia ora KB,
    Glad to read, and view, you taking comfort in the mountains. Kia kaha e hoa.

  27. Woof! Woof! Sending my Golden Thoughts to K. It loks like you got close to that bobcat ... a bit scary. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  28. Sweet K - I'm glad she can find happiness in short jaunts and snuggles! Being around you is all that really matters to her. I'm glad you're getting outside yourself for exercise. It will help keep your mind clear and focused. I once saw a skunk waddling across the ski trail at Copper Mountain. I nearly couldn't stop in time to let it get safely away! Thinking of you, KB.

  29. KB,
    your story about the skunk made me laugh. the first time we took asa camping (long before booker came along), we were driving up skyline drive in shenandoah national park. we were driving slowly and enjoying the spectacular views with the windows down. suddenly, we spotted a skunk walking several feet off from the road, and asa tried to jump out of the car to get at the skunk! i will never ever forget that chaotic moment!!
    on a more serious note, you definitely will make the right decision for K. the best decisions are always made when love and trust guide them. please give K a big hug for me.

    the booker man and asa's mama

  30. Wish I had some soothing words for your whoas, but I do know that you love K, and she loves you and together you will make the right decision for both of you. Your last paragraph says everything.


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