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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Precarious Balancing Act

Living with K's cancer is turning out to be a heart-wrenching balancing act between letting her live joyfully and protecting her from getting hurt. On our morning hike today, K was bursting with playful energy.
K's happiness was in direct contrast to the horrific weather. It was 2°F and the wind blasted out of the west at unthinkable speeds carrying freshly fallen snow crystals in its gusts. K didn't care. Her bare spots, shaved for her treatments, had ice crystals stuck to them but she played with sticks joyfully throughout our hike.
K wished that I was a dog and tried to lure me into games of chase. She'd let the stick hang off to the side and accelerate away from me, just like she does when she wants another dog to chase her.
I played with her as best I could but tried to avoid let the intensity ratchet up too high because she's at risk of breaking the bones that had osteosarcoma tumors in them. The radiation killed the tumors but further weakened the bones by killing healthy bone cells too.

In theory, K is not even supposed be running around off leash. However, we've decided that, given the deadliness of this disease, K should live with joy and playfulness for her time on this Earth. So, I let her run this morning despite my qualms.
This afternoon, I had both halves of the Duo with me for our sunset hike. I let them off-leash, and K picked up a stick to lure her brother, R, into a game of chase and wrestling. I bit back my words as one part of my heart desperately wanted to stop them. Another part of my heart was SO happy that K felt fabulous and wanted to play with her brother.
But, then, after they'd played for a while, one of them yelped. My heart skipped a beat, and I called them over to me. Both dogs were fine. But, for the sake of my heart, it was leash time. As I said at the start of this post, I'm finding this journey to be a precarious balancing act. I want K to live with joyful abandon for as long as she can... but I also don't want her to break her leg because that will limit how happy she can be in the coming days, weeks, and months.

Despite my difficulties with the balancing act, I think that K had a fabulous day. I haven't seen her so happy and puppy-like in a long time! We savored a sunset together and hiked home knowing that we'd made the most of the day.


  1. It's got to take a lot of strength to keep balancing like that. You again show your strength, KB. And K looks absolutely joyous. I know that if she understood the decisions you're making for her, she'd thank you.

    I love love the gleam in K's eye that you captured in the first photo!

  2. I just love the photo of K and R with the stick. It reminds me of me and Bert when we have a stick. KB I think you are doing amazingly well with the balancing. And I know K is so happy with how you are caring for her, it shows.
    Big hug for K and you too.

  3. What a fine line you must be walking. It must be heart wrenching on a daily basis to have to make these decisions for K and her happiness. Well, she did have another happy day with you and you got to watch the sunset together once more. You are making the only choices you know how for K, as you know her inside and out. You know what makes her happy and what is best for her and you are doing one heck of a job balancing the two. Give your self a break and pat yourself on the back and keep enjoying every moment with her!

  4. Bassetmomma's comment is spot on!

    We will be turning in now with images of The Happy Duo!

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Yes, indeed. It must be so hard to let her enjoy herself and still not get hurt. Is there any sort of brace support she could wear on that leg? It would probably slow her down a bit. Reminds me a lot of Dakota when I knew how sick she was and yet she still wanted to be able to go with the rest of the pack. You ARE doing a great job of balancing things.

  6. Every time I take Jamie for a walk, (Just the two of us now) It is a given, that she will have a seizure. But like you, I know she lives for these walks, this one on one time with me, the joy she gets from smelling every bit of news that went on before her.

    I expect the seizure, she has the seizure, but then she rouses herself out of it and off we go again.

    She is living life the way she wants to and I have to respect that. You and K have taught me that and Jamie thanks you.


  7. Such a hard decision. I still struggle with it with Zephyr. I worry he'll get hurt if he over does it, he'll over do it and somehow it will trigger a seizure, or at worst something will trigger the encephalitis. At the same time the thing that makes me happiest is to see him so happy. I bet you and K will find a good balance of it. I love the first picture, It looks like she's getting ready to get spunky. :-)

  8. One of your most glorious sunset! Those clouds! K deserves a bit of play - it must be difficult - I would worry , too. But K isn't worrying and that's good.

  9. Do you know what you would do if she would suffer a break while playing? How you would get her home again? Yes, I am one of those kinds of worriers. I love seeing her play with R, and having a good time. She deserves this fun.

    Jo, Stella and Zkhat

  10. You are doing a great job. Just listen to K and she will let you know how far she can go. I love that last shot. I don't think I have ever seen clouds that color.


  11. I think K has just what she needs to live the fullest and be taken care! Sounds like you both had a great time together and I love the way you made the most of it.

  12. Sometimes the heart overrules the head...and the soul always knows. Stay connected and the choices will be right.

  13. I see in your photographs a well loved dog, enjoying her day despite the new hardships cast on her. I understand the balancing act; we often have to make those choices for Kodee. K will let you know - trust her to tell you if an activity is too much.

  14. Lovely pics from your hike with K. She´s happy and seems not to have any problems just now. Thats wonderful to see. One of my dogs must have stomach problems. Two days in a row somebody vomit at the floor. I dont know who?? They eat and seems not to have any problems, but it´s not ok...

  15. I'm sure K had a fabulous day .

  16. I has to agrees with Bassettmomma too! You is doin a most awesome job balancing all dis stuffs. These are prolly choices you never thought you would haves to make on a daily basis eithers but you knows what is best fur K. Don't underestimate yourself.


  17. You is doin' a fine job of balancin'. Just keep on keepin' on. :)

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

  18. I have not been a good blogger lately, and I apologize...
    Your strength and perseverance have always impressed me!
    Sending positive thoughts, hugs and bellyrubs,

    I see lots of happiness and love in K's eyes...

  19. It is clear from the photos that you have made the right decision re-K. It takes a lot of courage but we know that's someone you have plenty of!

  20. Even if that yelp someday turns into something major like a broken bone I hope that you will still feel you're making the right decision to let her enjoy her days. Obviously she would be miserable not getting out to play and romp which if you think about it from a different angle, it would actually be prolonging the misery she may have down the road.

    *I can never figure out why their belly hair isn't thicker! I know Ches never seems to mind the cold on his belly either.

    Chester's Mom

  21. K looks very happy. You're doing a great balancing act.

    Love ya lots
    Maggie and Mitch

  22. I think you're doing great with the balancing act, and we all have to do that to a degree. Part of being a responsible guardian is telling them no sometimes. It might not be the best part, but it's a very necessary part! I think K is doing great finding her bliss, too. I have to say that I broke out in goosebumps looking at that ice on her belly, though! Brrrr!

  23. KB, I think you are doing the right thing by allowing K to live life and enjoy her days. It is her life and she is obviously enjoying it to the fullest. Our great dane Oscar had the dreaded bone cancer too in a front leg and we left him to do as he pleased and yes sometimes it hurt to see him hopping along but he was just so full of happiness we couldn't stop him.

    You are doing a fabulous job in a horrible situation. Keep strong for K. We are right behind you in this journey. Love Carol

  24. I just read through some of your recent posts-we're so very sorry to hear that your beautiful K has cancer. Last tiome we checked in, you were waiting over the holiday to get her tumor checked.

    We think you're doing the right thing by letting her run and play like all dogs should, although we realize that it is indeed, a balancing act.

    K is so beautiful and full of life-we hope and pray that she remains that way for many more years to come.

    And you are one heck of a photographer-your work is stunning. Thanks so much for sharing both your dogs and your photography with us!

  25. You are doing a fantastic job with your balancing act!
    K looks gorgeous and is having so much fun living life.
    Extra Big Nose Pokes
    The Thugletsx

  26. You know your K so well. You know what she needs to be happy- and you are giving her that space.
    She is happy and that shows you are doing a perfect job of balancing life for K.
    I know you must have freaked when you heard the yelp!
    Look at them play! Another splendid day, another awsome sunset

  27. That sounds like the perfect path. You have to live and if K feels like living, then so be moderation.

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