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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Learning from the dogs

I think that visiting such a completely alien environment like the desert was a perfect way to shift my thinking about K's osteosarcoma.
My mind was pulled out of a sad rut by living in a Mars-like environment for more than a week.
Before we left on our trip, I was still reeling from the shocking news that K had metastases in her lungs despite the state-of-the-art treatment that she was receiving for osteosarcoma. I knew that her prognosis had just taken a nose-dive. Due to that news, when I looked at my K, I saw a dog who was very sick with cancer and whose life would end soon. I was grieving even though my K was still here and very much alive.

Then, we went to the sunny desert and played together for an extended break. K showed me, without a doubt, that she has lots of spunk left in her. She hiked slot canyons with us that were barely wider than her body.
She ran with me as I took short mountain bike rides. Rather than just trotting along beside me, she sometimes scrambled among the cliffs and boulders lining the trails.
I didn't even flinch as she landed on her "weak" leg that used to have bone tumors in it.
She did have a little trouble with the heat and sore paw pads... but that's par for a desert trip.

When we weren't hiking or biking, we all relaxed in camp, enjoying the warm air and solitude. We snoozed, read, and took photographs. R practiced his favorite skill... he's an expert lap dog!
A week of that wonderful vacation routine altered my thinking dramatically. When I look at K now, I see a dog who is full of life and wants to live each moment with joy. Since the trip, I have to admit that I do swing into wildly hopeful moods that are not realistic. To stay on an even keel, I remind myself that these are the good days, and they won't last forever. I'm still working the mindset of simply enjoying each moment without thinking about the future. It's easy to say but, believe me, it's hard to do. Dogs are so very good at it... I'll keep trying to learn from my K.
And from R, who is far wiser than his goofy visage usually reveals.


  1. Oh, that R! I could just kiss that sweet black nose! I love both of those shots of him.

    K looks like she was enjoying the change of scenery as much or more than you were. I imagine it helps her not to have you in the mindset of having a sick dog, too. I know that when Treat was battling her spinal problems, I did some grieving ahead of time. There were good days and bad days. I think you can't beat yourself up about those bad days, just move past them and remember that without some bad days you can't realize the sweetness of the good days. K is very lucky to have all of you!

  2. I think that vacation probably did wonders for you all! It looks beautiful and K looks so happy. That last picture of R is just too funny, what a character!!

  3. P.S. Let's hope Kuster and R NEVER compare notes!

  4. I love R's goofy look and I can't stop imagining him in a human life where he takes bets on horses, sports, etc and he has this guy who is in debt to his boss, very deep, and R is saying "Whaddya mean ya can't pay nothing. . .you wanna get hurt, you wanna find out what a broken knee is like?" lolol

    Jo who gets carried away at times!
    (Jo, Stella and Zkhat)

  5. Hi Y'all,

    Been catchin' up on some readin'...too much going on lately to keep up.

    What a wonderful trip y'all had together. So glad K is enjoyin' herself so much.

    R has the most expressive face!

    Thanks for sharing.

    BrownDog's Human

  6. I'm so glad this trip helped you! Oh R, what a goofball!
    Dachshund Nola

  7. We all can learn a lot from our doggies ! K is really such a strong girl with wise eyes. And R.. you dear goofball.. what a funny face!

  8. All along I have known K was teaching all of us...R included!!!

    Thanks for sharing this great trip!

  9. Oh R, you crack us up!

    Your trip looks wonderful. My peeps were actually in Arizona all last week (they left me at home) - lots of wisdom and insight to be found in those beautiful canyons and rocks.

    Your pal, Pip

  10. I missed a few of your posts so it was so nice to just sit down and read and see our jaunt to Southern Utah.

    Your so right, R may look a little goofy now and again, but there is such warmth in his eyes.

    K looks like she had a wonderful time and this will be a trip of very fond memories for all of you.

    The sunset shot with K looking like an angel is amazing, just amazing.

    Keep up your personal strengh K, we are all here to support you if we can, but you are an exceptional woman who has trudged through a lonely dark area with head held high.

    Don't ever think you are alone on this. I know you have Runner and he is your key stone, but there is a lot of little gravel peices out here in blogville that are also with you 100%.

    Now I am through rambling.
    Bert's My Vickie

  11. We know what your saying KB, our thoughts and feelings are sometimes on a roller coaster ride full of ups and downs. We try our hardest to think positive, and then we get to thinking, and we fall and slide out of control.
    But thank goodness for the beautiful journey you all took to the desert together- Mother Earth- wrapping her arms of love around you all with some beauty, and such a good time for all of you.
    The photos are fantastic- of the cliffs and swirls in the clay- and that silly R, he makes us laugh!
    The photos of the amazing K- living in the moment- touch us every time. She has no worries.

  12. We like to say that the desert bakes out all of the clutter and leaves only the essential.

  13. I wish I knew how to say what I want.. But for me HOPE is always realistic. But I do understand what you are saying. Again K is very beautiful in all the pics and her happy joyful, and hopeful self shines through.
    And what can you say about R. BOL! I would love to hang with that dawg.

  14. I'm so glad you all got away and had such a nice time. I was hoping that the fire was near your home, very sad. But, K and R look great and your trip sounds really relaxing.

  15. What a wonderful trip you all had K is living life to the full.
    Goofy makes us smile so much.
    Stay strong and positive live each day for the moment.

    Big Nose Pokes
    The Thugletsx

  16. I am so glad that your trip was so good. I bet we could all learn from K on how to live to the fullest and always look forward.

    Loveys Sasha

  17. Oh, what a change in weather and surroundings. But K looks good there, too :-)
    Glad it did you all that good!

  18. You are the best teacher, K!
    I just love all of your photos!

    Love ya lots,

  19. Just let the good days roll.

  20. What a fantastic trip for all of you! I'm so glad it has lifted your spirits :)

    Waggin at ya,

  21. I'm glad your vacation worked out for you. I, too, fall into the trap of looking at my Mango and thinking sad thoughts because I know he is old and sore and other stuff, but when I really look at him, I see a happy, bouncy guy who wants to enjoy his life. We all benefit from learning to live life in the moment.

    Mango Momma

  22. K has taught us all a few things....her is amazin'! I loves to watch her enjoyin' her life to da fullest, withs no thoughts of da future tog gets in her way.
    I am glad ya'll hads a good trip and dat it helped you menatally and emotionally.

    R is so funny, him makes me laugh.


  23. Take each day and live it to its fullest. We learn a lot from dogs like K, and my Benji and those before them. Make every good memory count and store it away forever.

  24. I'm so glad that the trip rejuvenated you! It's got to be so hard to just focus on the here and now and not look forward. Keep your eye on the daily prize...K's happiness! Nothing wrong with being hopeful! :)

  25. We so often forget to live in the moment because we are afraid of the future, Ultimately, the now is all we really have, though, and K knows you have the best of everything together right now!

    That last picture of R is priceless!!

  26. The trip was good for all of you. What lovely landscape you have there...K looks so happy and for sure enjoyed every moment.
    R looks very funny on the last picture..he´s seems very special too.
    Hope you have a nice Easter Weekend.
    We are waiting for snow :-(

  27. Yes indeed, a change in routine is just what you all needed, the pictures are proof of that.
    Are all black Labs goofy, or just ours? :)

  28. Yes! What a beautiful trip, this is what living in the moment is all about! The happy is just shimmering through the screen. :)

    One of my most special Kiva moments (and that's saying something) happened during a hike in's clear as day in my mind and will still make me smile even when I'm 90. These moments we share with them truly do last forever.

    BTW, I'm looking at your R and knowing that you will LOVE our Rissie when we all have the chance to meet.

  29. One day at a time, that's all you can do. Enjoy K, she's a beauty. I know its easy to give advice from across the world, but I do understand. My heart goes out to you. Just try and enjoy her. Thanks for sharing your photos and your emotion with us. Love Carol (and Stella and Rory)

  30. It's great that K is having all these great adventures still. Gorgeous post as always


  31. Seems you had a vision quest in the canyons. I totally agree that we need to learn from our dogs. Live in the here and now and forgive everyone for everything.

  32. What a beautiful and timely vacation. Your photos, words and thoughts bring us right in. We thank you.
    Enjoy each moment..

    Sweet hugs,
    Sierra Rose

  33. You have learned so much from K. The trek last week was so needed. I know K appreciated every moment!

  34. New follower here. Your photos are wonderful. I enjoyed them so much. Stop on by and see us

  35. Your beautiful photos make me want to return to the desert, but the photos of K and R bring me back to the reality you are facing. Please know our thoughts and prayers are always with you, on vacation or not.


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