Alf's Blogs


 
Remembering Alf
My Excellent Fourth of July Adventure
by Alfie, a.k.a., ALF

(2014)  Morning arrived in typical fashion and I was awake laying on the floor.  I greeted my tall pack with a couple-o-wags-of-my-tail and an irresistible, toothy grin.  Oh, oh, oh!!!!  I'm getting sidetracked - I have got to tell you about my Fourth of July!!!

My morning routine consists of a series of tail flutters while I gaze up from the floor toward my tall pack members.  My reclined gaze is then followed by me sitting up and leaning slightly into the side of their bed.  They graciously acknowledge me by petting the top of my head.  The next phase of morning ritual should interest Science Diet breeds - I'm a Fromm dog, myself.  The physics of gravity forces the taller pack membersí feet toward the floor.  Once their feet land on the floor their bodies unfold to standing position.

It takes about six minutes for the tall pack to chase me into a corner, then rustle me to the ground, and scoop me into a harness with a slip-snap-buckle-mechanism-thing.  The chasing me and rustling me to the ground stuff isn't really true - I just added that for dramatic effect.  I'm actually an easy catch.  I love my harness contraption that was likely invented by a corset manufacturer. I have a color coordinated leash, too!  Once I step into my harness, it only takes one snap of a buckle and it hugs my furry little bod.  The harness means one of two things ... either I'm going outside for a walk ... or going for a ride in the car ... I enjoy both!

I have a tendency to become more animated when I'm strapped into my harness - my tail starts wagging wildly and I make weird audible sounds that only my pack understands.  With my bod securely nestled inside the apparatus, me and momma pack member went outside for our morning excursion around the neighborhood.  It was a national holiday, and I wondered if my pack had the day off.  The answer to my ponder was delivered to me in the form of a question -- they asked me if I wanted to go to PetSmart.

Being asked if I wanted to go was all it took.  I responded with two perked ears, widened eyes, and an opened mouth grin.  I did a series of silly hopping motions around their feet and legs.  Shedding all signs of dignity, I then sat up on my hind legs and extended my front paws in the air.  I stared directly into the eyes of the leash holder.  I like going to PetSmart with my tall pack.

I enjoy the staff at PetSmart and their Banfield staff.  Together, they're some my biggest fans.  I love to sniff the lower shelf consumables at PetSmart.  My downfall is most every shape, color, or flavor that is food oriented.  I'm a food motivated dog.  I live to eat and I eat to live.  It's the very essence of who I am.  It's true.  I'm a short furry eating machine.  

It takes a variety of food groups to form the circle of life for a dog.  Well, there's that ... and, the importance of being in a tall pack like mine.  A good pack with an ample supply of food groups is essential.  Every member of a pack has a role.  I have never been able to buy large quantities dog food with my looks or personality alone.  I receive plenty of free treats, however, the purchase of large quantity dog food requires tall pack members.  Forming a pack that includes tall members is vital.  I've attracted a good pack.  Some dogs aren't this lucky.  I've a roof over my head, a fenced yard, a neighborhood to roam on a leash, and plenty to eat.

When I go to PetSmart, my pack is constantly interrupted by employees (and strangers), requesting a meet and greet session with me.  I must be a people magnet.  When my pack and I are out and about, humans alway want to meet me.  I has gotten to the point that it's almost embarrassing, yet I enjoy every minute of it.

I thrive on attention.  I like humans.  Humans like me.  My life is good.  To better accommodate introductions, my tall pack member designed a full color calling card, all about me, including breed info and a picture.  My calling card has a link to this Website so humans can read about me.

Pretty cool, huh?

My awesome day didn't end with our visit to PetSmart.  From there my pack driver chauffeured me about a mile down the road to Bluegrass Barkery in Helmsdale Place, on Man-O-War Boulevard.  Bluegrass Barkery is a local establishment.  The Barkery sure knows how to cater to dogs and humans.  They also sell designer dog  treats, made fresh, right in their store, for clients like me.  It's like having your own personal chef.

My humans buy my Fromm dog food, and three foot minced rawhide sticks, at the Bluegrass Barkery.  I'm often rewarded at home in inches, broken off from those three foot minced sticks.  I do not understand human calculations concerning treats, as I could easily devour one of those three foot rawhide sticks in one sitting.

My inspection and sniffing of lower shelf consumables at the Bluegrass Barkery is a time consuming job.  In addition to their awesome supply of stuff for dogs, it's a great place to meet other humans.  My pack and I visit there often.

What a morning it had been and it only got better as the day rolled on.  From Bluegrass Barkery we went to Cheddars for lunch.  I'm a perfect gentleman, when laying on their patio with my pack.  The number of stares I receive from the other guests is a bit awkward.  Their smiles make up for it.  My taller pack members enjoy dining there.  Judging from the small bites I'm offered, their food is pretty tasty.

My adventure continued with a stop at Sportsman Warehouse.  Momma pack member noticed they were having a sidewalk sale.  We browsed a bunch of interesting stuff, and the tall pack dude tried on a pair of shoes that were sitting on a table.  I eventually wandered inside the store with my human pack.  An opportunity to browse sportsman stuff up close and personal.  Never before have I sniffed so many outdoor things ... indoors.

As you can imagine, my repeated sniffing sessions were interrupted by humans wanting to meet me.  I don't mind the interruptions when I'm the center of attention.

From there, my pack and I traveled across town to the Coldstream Farm Dog Park -- acres and acres of fenced space for dogs to wander.  There must be fourteen acres in each of their two dog park sections.  The park even allows the taller members of your pack into the area.  That's kind of cool, too.  There's plenty of grass and an assortment of weeds to walk and run through.  A perfect place for doggy fun and exploration.

I ran through that grass unleashed and without my harness.  I wandered all the way out to the interstate boundary fence, and strolled the perimeter.  I caught whiff of one hundred thirty seven individual scents that day -- a new record for me.  After about thirty minutes of exploration I meandered toward those main entrance double gates.  What a fun afternoon I had.  No leash.  No tugs.  No pulls.  A well deserved excursion for an excellent dog like me.  On the ride back home, we stopped at a Dairy Queen.  The treats just kept coming that day.  Sometimes when I'm laying around the house wait for my pack to come home ... I think about my excellent Fourth of July adventure.

Remind me sometime to share my boating adventure down the Kentucky River with you.

- ALF

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Elizabethan Collar
Alf and the Elizabethan Collar
by MOGS a.k.a., tallest member of Alf's pack

It was a dark and dreary morning and the view from the bedroom window framed the steady falling rain like an impressionist painting.  My wife and Alfie had left the house twenty minutes earlier to embark on their routine morning walk before she leaves for work.  It should be noted that Alfie isn't on the Top Ten List of most graceful creatures to ever walk our earthly terrain.  Alfie is a Chow Chow/Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier mix - a decent size dog with a low to the ground physical stance - he is an excellent tracker.  He enjoys tracking a scent so much that he occasionally doesn't pay attention to where he's walking.  It's not unusual for his concentration on a scent to negate the rest of the world around him - sometimes there are obstacles within that outside world that are smack dab in his path.  His next biggest distraction when on an otherwise mundane leashed walk is seeking out the next vertical structure to catch up on his neighborhood peeMail.

My cell phone rang while I was getting ready for work.  The display on the phone indicated 6:45am above my wife's name.  I answered the phone call - the anxious voice from the other end instructed, "Grab some towels and run outside toward the corner of Preakness.  Alfie has tripped alongside the sidewalk and he's
bleeding quite a bit!"

I grabbed a towel and a couple of wash clothes and made my exit through the front door.  As I neared the scene of the accident I saw Alfie laying beside the sidewalk.  My wife's umbrella was propped in the grass behind him, shielding the injured one from the pouring rain as she stood guard directly in front of him - Alfie was laying comfortably in the rain soaked grass with a bloody front paw and his familiar friendly smile.  The falling rain animated the patches of blood on the sidewalk behind them.

My wife and I gingerly helped Alfie to his feet and carefully slid a large towel underneath him.  We carried our injured little friend home in the make-shift sling.  We eased the little guy into the back seat of the car and after making a couple of phone calls Tammy and Alfie departed - destination - veterinarian.

The retail part of the store was open, however, it'd be nearly two hours before their veterinary facility would open for business.  Tammy called me with an update on the patient and circumstances - bleeding from the injured paw had stopped and Alfie was resting comfortably in the rear seat.  I suggested rather than spend the entire wait sitting in the parking lot, find a fast food place and order something for both of them - the restaurant would have a plastic carry-out container that could serve as a water bowl for Alfie.

Time passed, as time often will, and the veterinarian clinic was now opened for business.  Tammy had been in contact earlier with an employee there, and an employee helped escort Alfie inside and proceeded to examine his injured front paw.  A price quote was then provided dependent on what would have to be done.  
The quote was significant given they quoted her the high end - it could be less - it would not be more - much of the price would depend on the type of sedation required.

The clock ticked slower as we awaited a phone call detailing the extent of our little friend's injures.  After about an hour we received the call - his accident had broken one nail off and split another.  Alfie (the trooper that he is) was extremely accommodating toward the care he received and had been the perfect patient.  His cooperative nature actually reduced a sizable portion of the vet bill.

The nurse relayed to us that as he was walking to the exam room he left one nail behind on their tile floor - thus, no nail extraction charge, and the split nail merely needed to be glued.  Alfie allowed the vet to examine, clean, and dress his wound without any fuss so heavy sedation wasn't required - therefore, no heavy sedation fee either.  We brought Alf home that evening and the patient was doing well.  I suspected that time would tell the tale as to whether Alfie would negotiate the Elizabethan Collar, or as dogs tend to refer to such collars ... the cone of shame.

Animals and Elizabethan Collars have never been a match made in heaven.  Is there anything less natural than having a coned-shaped transparent cylinder, flaring upward, fitted around their furry necks?  I suppose an opaque cone-shaped cylinder would be a tad less natural but I'm not splitting hairs.

Alfie wasn't too hip on the idea of wearing the awkward albeit innovative injury recovery collar.  A million questions must have been racing through his mind. I can only imagine those thoughts went something like this, "How am I supposed to reach my water bowl - my food bowl - my injured paw - what are my friends in the neighborhood going to think - is it going to pinch my neck when I assume the poop position - will I tip over and fall flat on my face with my butt in the air?"

I'm sure Alf thought, "How demeaning ... there's NO WAY I'm going outside in public wearing THIS thing! ... What if I miss a tossed treat?  Will it clank, clatter, and rattle as it spirals down this silly funnel only to lodge somewhere between my furry little neck and this embarrassing contraption?  How cruel.  This is inhumane.  Why am I being punished?", Alfie thought to himself as he laid on the floor, sunlight peering through the family room window, bouncing light-rays off the peculiar device.

After half an hour of what Alfie deemed mistreatment and embarrassment, the silly contraption was removed.  There were a couple of reasoning we removed the collar much sooner that recommended.  Considering Alf's low stance to the ground, the awkward collar worked better as a shovel, or scoop, than a beneficial deterrent - not to mention he kept bumping into everything.  The cone was quickly deemed more of a liability than a preventive measure.

No longer a prisoner of the dreadful Elizabethan Collar, Alfie continued to lay in the floor, making no attempts to fuss with his injured paw.  For his protection, my wife slipped a rubber paw boot on his paw and Alfie was okay with that preventive maneuver.  As of this writing, he has never bothered the rubber boot, has slept through one night without incident, and has been outside with it.  He has been walking through the house, negotiating stairs without effort, and seems content wearing his protective paw gear.  No doubt about it, Alf is a trooper!

- by MOGS a.k.a., the tallest member in the pack

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Remembering Alf
Alfie ... Diagnosed with Cancer
Posted September 30, 2015     by Mark D McKinley


This blog was written in honor of our furry little pal, Alfie. He's truly one of a kind - a rare mixed breed that has touched the lives of so many people. I also wish to stress the importance of thorough oral cavity assessment of canines on a regular basis. Especially for breeds with dark pigmented skin on the tongue and gums.
Alfie a.k.a. ALF
On September 18, 2015, Alfie was diagnosed with oral cancer. Malignant Melanoma had attacked Alfie near the base of his tongue - topside and underside. Growth of the diseased tumor has been rapid from the onset - a ruthless attack on our gentle, kindhearted, friend. Difficult for me to digest is why I didn't notice something was wrong sooner. Progression of the disease has been quick. If only a red flag had caught our attention sooner. A few weeks had passed before we realized something was wrong. The changes were subtle. After a couple more weeks Alfie's eating and drinking characteristics had noticeably changed - a red flag now waved like a huge banner in the wind - it got our attention!

Writing this blog has provided me an outlet - a form of therapy. Alfie's diagnosis of malignant Melanoma breaks my heart. We'll make Alfie's end journey a pleasant one and pain free. We'll do everything possible to keep him comfortable. We will not be selfish. Alfie will be released from his disease in the proper way and at the right time. Alfie has always received the best of care in a prompt manner, however, cancer had been lurking undetected - on the prowl with a take no prisoners aggressiveness - waging a covert assault on our gentle friend. It's difficult not to blame myself for not noticing something was wrong sooner.

Alfie's wellness checkup in June didn't reveal any sign of health issues or abnormalities. Alfie accompanied us downtown on the Fourth of July and enjoyed the people and festivities. Alfie flourishes in social settings - loves meeting people and the attention he receives from new acquaintances. On that day our short furry friend was a show stopper, as usual. Walking [on his leash] amongst strangers, Alfie attracts attention due to his unique appearance - his lovable personality wins the heart of everyone he meets. Alfie exemplifies the win-win scenario.

Throughout most of July there were no indications Alfie was having any issues eating or drinking. Alfie has always enjoyed tossing his treats in the air then rolling on them and acting silly before munching on them. Edible consumables make Alfie happy. I believe he would stand on his head and spin around in circles if he thought a new fangled treat would be tossed in his direction.

It was sometime in August when we began to notice a slight modification in the way Alfie handled his treats. He loves to eat and enjoys his treats. He doesn't play with toys. Doggie toys are fine for other breeds - they're not for him! Alfie considers a toy nothing more than an object that could distract a dog away from a treat. Alfie has little regard for doggie toys - he considers them an absurd waste of manufacturing and resources - you can't eat a toy!

Alfie has a history of dental issues. He receives regular wellness checkups, teeth cleanings and grooming. He has lost two teeth since he's been with us. One tooth simply fell out and the other tooth was extracted by a veterinarian.

Toward the end of August Alfie appeared to be experiencing some tooth or jaw issues - we scheduled an appointment with his veterinarian for an oral exam. We took Alfie to his appointment and that afternoon we received a phone call from the veterinarian. While sedating Alfie to do a thorough teeth cleaning, they had difficulty inserting the vent tube in his throat.

On closer examination the veterinarian discovered a large tumor on the back of Alfie's tongue. A core biopsy was removed from the tumor and shipped to a lab for detailed analysis. The deep biopsy taken from his tongue required stitches and Alfie tolerated the procedure well. Our veterinarian office received the biopsy results one week later. Lab analysis revealed that Alfie had malignant Melanoma. We were then referred to an oncologist at the Blue Pearl Specialty/Emergency Veterinary facility in Louisville.

Blue Pearl had an opening for an appointment with Alfie on September 23rd. The three of us arrived at the facility twenty minutes prior to our 11AM appointment. Alfie was the pleasant little dog that has defined his character - he impressed everyone he met there - staff fell in love with him. After registering Alfie, there was paperwork to be filled out. I slipped one of Alfie's business cards under the clip holder before Tammy returned the completed forms to the front counter.

Our appointment was right on schedule and involved an extensive consult with the oncologist. An intern accompanied the doctor during our first consult. The intern sat on the floor across from the oncologist - she motioned for Alfie. He walked over and laid down, then rolled onto his side snuggled next to her. The intern smiled as she loved on him - Alfie was comfortable. Halfway through our initial consult there was a knock on the door. A staff member asked the oncologist if she could step out for a minute and answer a question regarding another animal. The doctor smiled when she walked back in our room and commented she was a little bit jealous. She then explained that when she passed the registration counter, everyone was reading Alfie blogs on his website. Smiles filled the room - her compassionate effort to momentarily lightening the mood was a success.

After our initial consultation the oncologist and an intern walked Alfie down the hall to an exam room. Tammy and I waited while Alfie received a more thorough hands on exam. When the oncologist and Alfie returned, she recommended having three X-Rays taken - precise angles to view Alfie's lungs before proceeding any further. The type of cancer he has usually spreads to the lungs. A surgeon had been consulted and was on standby for a surgical evaluation of Alfie at 2:30. That evaluation would depend on what the three X-Rays revealed.

Noon had arrived so the oncologist suggested we leave Alfie in their care and go have lunch somewhere. She would call in a couple of hours and share with us what the X-Rays revealed. While having lunch Tammy and I discussed possibilities and options for Alfie based on what we had learned so far.

The oncologist called Tammy a couple of hours later and said the X-Rays indicated the cancer hadn't spread to his lungs - Alfie's lungs were clear. The next logical step would be a hands on examination by the surgeon at 2:30 - the exam would be done while Alfie was under light sedation.

The Oncologist suggested we return to the facility around three o'clock. She went over every detail of the surgeon's report with us. The exam profile submitted by the surgeon was not good. Several factors ruled out any surgical procedure and also posed a high risk in regard to other forms of treatment. The size and location of the tumor greatly reduced our options. With surgery no longer an option to remove or reduce the size of the tumor, a regiment of chemo or radiation therapy to prolong his life was also ruled out. The odds were stacked against Alfie. The risks, too great. Inclusive to Alfie's condition, the side effects from radiation therapy are too risky to chance.

Alfie received compassionate and high level care at Blue Pearl in Louisville. He had several procedures performed on him that day. Alfie was a perfect gentleman toward staff during each process of his extensive evaluation. The day placed an emotional and physical drain on the three of us. When we arrived home that evening our furry friend was subdued and quiet. He had been through an eventful day.

When Alfie woke up the next morning he was full of life, happy, and energetic. Much like his usual self. I took Alf for a morning walk around part of the neighborhood. He had spring in his step and greeted everyone we passed just like he always has. When we returned to the house I led him through the side gate into the backyard. He walked around the yard for several minutes then laid down in the upper corner. Alf laid there for awhile and took a visual pan of his surroundings - he was happy - it was a beautiful day. I stayed outside with him for half an hour or so. He enjoys company when he's outside. Not long after I came inside, he came inside and I gave him a spoonful of soft food as a treat. Alf has adjusted fairly quick to the transition from hard treats to soft foods. I'm sure he misses being able to gnaw on hard biscuits and lengths of minced rawhide, however, he's adapted without a fuss.

From the moment Alf excepted an invitation to complete our family he's enjoyed being around people. Our lives have been enhanced by Alf and he's secured a special place in the hearts of many friends. Alf has gathered a rather large repertoire of tricks through the years and he sometimes gets feisty when such commands are given. Alf will shake hands based on which hand you wish to shake. He enjoys smacking a high-five. He'll stand on his hind legs and raise both paws in the air when offered a treat he really enjoys. He also does his standing on hind legs routine when we mention something he really wants to do. He'll roll over on command providing the coast is clear ... meaning, there's no obstacles in his way.

I'd be amiss if I didn't write a few words about Alf and the mailman. For all of the uniqueness that defines Alf, he's very much a typical dog in most ways - he's familiar with the sound of vehicles that frequent our court. The mail truck is no exception. Alf perks up and his ears stand straight up when he hears the mail truck. He can recognize the sound of the mail truck from nearly a block away. Similar to many canines, when Alf hears the mailman coming down the street he's anxious to get to him! Alf then becomes a rifle and the mailman is his target.

Doggie tunnel vision will override canine logic or reasoning. Nothing else matters at that moment - Alf is on a mission. Food can wait. Doggie treats can wait. A walk in the park can wait. Alf's only focus in life at that very moment is running toward one of his best friends in the whole wide world ... the mailman.

Our mailman and Alf are crazy about one another - best pals. If we're away from the house walking the neighborhood and Alf sees the mail truck, he stops in his tracks with ears perked and sits at attention on the sidewalk - Alf has the mailman targeted in the cross hairs!

The mailman spots Alf from down the street - mail truck gets closer - mailman pulls to the side of the road - parks - mailman gets out of truck - checks for oncoming traffic in both directions - starts walking toward Alf.

By this time Alf is nearly beside himself with enthusiasm. The two of them greet each other and the mailman hands Alf a treat. He then talks to Alf and loves on him. The only thing Alf would like better is an opportunity to finish the mailman's route ... sitting beside him in the truck. We've explained to Alf on numerous occasions that it isn't possible. Alf understands, sort of.

Riding in cars - Alf is the perfect travel companion on the road. He loves to go places in the car. Excursions include several car shows ... cruising down the Kentucky River on the Dixie Belle ... walking the grounds at Shaker Village ... enjoying the sights and sounds of Cumberland Falls ... laying by a campfire at the Kentucky Horse Park listening to his musician friends ... performing tricks for treats ... meeting strangers ... hanging out at Highbridge, KY. ... dining at a sidewalk restaurant in Wilmore ... becoming friends with staff at a couple of Mexican restaurants ... turning heads and making new friends on the patios at Wild Eggs and Cheddars ... family gatherings ... staying overnight with friends.

Alf volunteered his services as a prop for a Winter themed model shoot in October 2014. He spent an afternoon hanging out with three attractive models. I had to remind him that he was a prop, not the star. Alf didn't mind ... he was busy ... posing ... in front of multiple cameras ... with models!
Alf and the Photo Shoot
Alf makes routine visits to PetSmart and Bluegrass Barkery. He doesn't view them as competitors in the pet industry since he has faithful friends both places.

Alf's had a happy life filled with love. Alf has made many friends - his life is whole. He's now approaching the end of his journey with us and is receiving compassionate palliative care. The regiment of meds are working well.

Alf has touched so many lives in the three plus years he's been with us. He was a rescue dog from the Lexington Humane Society - six years old when put up for adoption. We're grateful to have had the opportunity to play a role in his life. Alf's time with us will consummate soon and the vast circumference defining Alf's circle of life will conclude peacefully ...  at the right time.

 Life in general ... is short ... for animals and Humans.

Life is for the living ... make the best of it. Perhaps most important ... make it count!

 
Updates                                           TOP OF PAGE

October 1, 2015 - Alf has been on a regiment of palliative medication for one week. He isn't experiencing pain. His appetite is still good. He has started drinking less water in recent days so we've been increasing the moisture content of his soft foods to keep proper hydration balanced. He's adapted well to liquidy soft foods. Alf is enjoying life. He's rolled around on the floor twice, acting silly - typical play, for Alf. His tail is still wagging ... he smiles ... and interaction with Tammy and I has been normal.

Issues arising from the illness are minimal. He enjoys being around family and friends. He wasn't as peppy today - nothing out of the ordinary. He's always been more ambitious some days than others - not to mention it was an overcast ... gloomy day, weather wise, and I wasn't too peppy either.

October 7, 2015 - This past week Alfie stopped drinking for two days. We constantly monitor his intake of liquids and adjust the moisture content of his soft food as needed. Since those two days he has returned to his normal drinking pattern. We continue to mix his soft foods with a high moisture content.

Having researched canine cancer and life threatening illnesses when applied to end of life issues, canines react different from humans when diagnosed with cancer or another fatal illness. A dog doesn't realize their illness is a death sentence - therefore their coping process differs from that of a human. Observation of their daily routine is the key to noticing changes in established patterns.

Alfie's daily routine is pretty normal and his personality hasn't changed. He still wallows around on the floor and acts silly from time to time. Our pleasant furry friend sleeps well and exhibits no sign or symptoms of pain. He doesn't pace. He isn't anxious. He enjoys being around us. He enjoys being around other people. He's still chasing squirrels in the backyard. I should note that chasing seems to be a higher priority than catching.

We realize his condition might change suddenly ... at anytime ... any day. Veterinarian services and other assistance has been arranged to facilitate closure when the time comes.

October 18, 2015 - We lost our friend this afternoon ....... REST IN PEACE Alfie.
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Remembering Alf
Rest in Peace

Posted October 19, 2015     by Mark D McKinley

Alfie's life ended on October 18, 2015. Palliative medications prescribed by the Blue Pearl Veterinarian Specialty/Emergency facility in Louisville, Kentucky enabled Alfie to enjoy life to the end. His personality never changed during the course of his illness. Alf was a happy dog and enjoyed his final weeks of life. He continued to enjoy chasing the occasional squirrel when he was outdoors. Alf didn't chase squirrels all of the time ... sometimes he'd just sit and watch them. When he did run towards them it was more like play ... they had plenty of time to get away.

Alf had a keen eye for spotting people blocks away. He thrived for the opportunity to meet someone during our neighborhood walks. Alf loved meeting people anywhere we went. He was such a socialable little guy. Only days ago Alf had made yet another new friend during one of our walks  and a few minutes into my conversation the gentleman, he stopped me mid sentence and remarked, "Wait a minute ... this is ALF?"

I replied, "Yes, this is ALF!"

The gentleman then explained that earlier that same day a friend of his had told him about a dog in the neighborhood named ALF.

Tammy and I had often joked with people that everyone knows Alf! It's true ... sort of.

Alfie's oral cancer was agressive. We adjusted his diet to make eating easier for him. He was getting good nutrition. Drinking water had become difficult for him. We measured his water intake before his illness and started mixing water with his food accordingly to ensure proper hydration. He could no longer eat dry food or hard treats. We began mixing and mashing an assortment of soft dog foods into a moist soupy mix - three meals a day. Alfie also received a soft snack with his meds. Alfie loved his new food format - his appetite was good and he was eating well.

We monitored his outdoor outputs daily - all functions and output amounts were normal.

The cancer created a drool issue that progressively got worse. We kept Alfie tidy as possible - we had to mop his muzzle often and he recived two pan w/ wash cloth muzzle baths. We trimmed the fur under and around his jaw to help eliminate matting and keep him comfortable. Alfie wasn't thrilled about our muzzle cleaning duties, yet he tolerated it well. He'd wag his tail after a quick muzzle cleaning then rub up against us - his personality never changed.

On the evening of October 17th, Alfie initiated his rolling around on the floor session with me. We had a good time - he acted silly and made his typical happy Alfie noises the entire time. We had fun and Alfie loved the interaction.

The morning of October 18th Alfie's condition took a downward spiral. Oral cancer had now taken away his ability to eat. His morning soupy meal was extremely difficult for him - Alfie could no longer lap up his soupy diet adequately as he had during previous weeks. His ability to eat had changed overnight. It was taking a much greater effort for him to eat his morning meal.

His mouth began to bleed in the process. He attempted to drink water from his water bowl and the water turned red. The drooling bleed continued even after he stopped. This also meant he'd no longer be able to manage his oral medications - it was time to let Alfie to rest.

Tammy and I both knew we'd never be ready when it was time. Whether we were ready or not, we weren't going to be selfish. Alf was a remarkable dog. He brought such joy to our lives and we reciprocated our love back to him. When Alf was diagnosed with inoperative cancer we promised him we would not let him suffer.

Required services had already been arranged for whenever the crucial moment arrived. The phone call was made around 2:45PM. We were told that Alf could be brought in as soon as we wanted - they would be ready for our arrival. As the three of us walked up to the reception desk the staff was noticably sad. They loved Alfie, too.

They walked us to an exam room immediately and brought in a huge quilted comforter and gingerly placed it on the floor. Tammy and I laid on the floor beside him. Two nurses then laid down on the quilted comforter and talked to Alf. Their staff was at our beck and call for anything we needed or wanted - being with Alfie was all we required.

Two at a time, several staff members came into our room and visited their furry friend. Alf was hugged and loved as they talked to him. A couple of them kissed him on the head before they left. Alf had so many friends ... everywhere ... including veterinarians, nurses and staff.

Alfie went to rest surrounded in a circle of love. Bainfield Lexington and the pallitive care prescribed by Blue Pearl in Louisville allowed Alf to enjoy the last weeks of his life to the fullest.

The most difficult aspect of his illness was the fact Alfie was still so full of life - us knowing his life would only continue for a few weeks. What slightly eased my pain was knowing that he was enjoying his life, his time with us, and still enjoyed visiting his friends.

Alfie loved us and we loved him - he made our family whole. His big brown eyes and face was so expressive - they spoke more than any words could. Alfie would light up a room with those eyes and his friendly smile. As we were preparing Alfie for his last ride, his face expressed something different ... he could tell something was wrong ... his big brown eyes and somber expression was exhibiting sadness ... for us.

Cancer is a terrible equalizer - the ultimate battle against one's will to live. It makes no difference to cancer whether its enemy is human or canine - its mission is to defeat the host.

To all of our friends, Thank You for the many kind words you've expressed. Alf was a unique dog. I've met many dogs in my time. I've never met another dog like Alf. We must all remember life is for the living and time moves very fast. Enjoy the people and pets around you while you have them.

October 18, 2015    Mark D McKinley


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