Dog trains man

Thursday, March 19, 2015

New Memories

I kneel down next to Viva's tree with a view over the heath fields. The ground is cold from the night's frost. The fields are blueish with frozen dew, and hide the brown color they carry at this time of year. I hope we can witness a sunrise together, Viva's tree and me.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Little Tree On The West Coast

We laid Viva's ashes to rest under a little tree we planted on the corner of our property on the West-coast, overlooking her beloved heath fields. The West-coast, with its rough and harsh nature, was contradictory the only place where a vulnerable soul like Viva could feel genuinely safe and be happy, all day long. I couldn't think of a better place, as the West-coast was where she thrived most.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Viva Sunday #11: One More Easter Egg

I couldn't even have imagined adopting a dog, just a week ago.

When I rewind to the week just before Easter, instead of looking forward to some time off during those public holidays, I was bracing myself.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Viva Sunday #10: Searched & Rescued

As soon as we dropped the leash on the deserted camping place, both Kenzo and Viva dashed into the falling darkness. "Kenzo! Viva!". The silence of the evening was clear. They were gone.

"I told you it was a bad idea", my wife said. I agreed. This can't be happening. What an idiot I am, Viva had been spotting rabbits the whole day from the window of our holiday cottage. Of course she took the first opportunity available, to start a chase. Great. Leo ... what were you thinking.

I hate not to give Viva at least some off leash time every day. Would it this time be my biggest mistake? Soon a minute passed, and then another. And another. We called out, but there was no reply. No happy Hovawarts returning while saying, "Here we are, we had a blast!".

I seriously started to worry now, and we agreed to split up. I would try to search in the direction they disappeared, while my wife stayed put, in case they might return to the same place.

Fighting my way through the forrest, branches were whipping in my face, and I felt my panic rising. I wondered, why Kenzo didn't listen to his recall and set an example. Viva would have probably continued without him, and she wouldn't stop for nothing, too exciting for her not to give chase. And Kenzo would never leave her side. Damn me.

Suddenly I bumped into something solid, and I could tell with the help of the remaining moonlight, it was a fence. A sigh of relief went through my body, they couldn't be miles away, "Thank You O Thy Fence, for being exactly here!".  Looking to the right, the forrest was engulfed in darkness, but to my left I could see some shadows, indicating there was light, and I instinctively went that way.

I didn't have to go far, before Kenzo and Viva, with my wife behind them, came running as dark shadows through the narrow corridor along the fence, "There you are dad, you been on a rabbit hunt as well? how cool!".

I was so happy to see them. "Where have you been?" my wife asked. "They have been back for ages. We worried something happened to you".

I guess I just got searched & rescued.

Viva spotting juicy rabbits ahead!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Viva Sunday #9: Improved Treatment and Diagnosis of Cushing's Disease

The treatment and diagnosis of Cushing's disease is under constant improvement and research. During the years Viva had Cushing's, a lot already changed, and more changes are ahead. If there is one thing Viva and me learned, it is that this is not not a disease you can manage by sticking a pill, but you have to be constantly on your toes, and take the clinical signs you notice very serious.

Cushing's is caused by a tumor in the pituitary or the adrenal gland, causing an over production of ACTH hormones which in turn triggers an overproduction of cortisol. A life threatening condition affecting inner organs like kidneys and liver. Some of the most common signs are hair-loss, a pot-belly, lethargic behavior, incontinence, and being overly interested in food and water. Cushing's is many times mistaken with normal aging signs of dogs, making it a silent killer.

This is what we learned along the way:

Back in 2011, Viva was diagnosed with Cushing's based on a urine test and a ACTH stimulation test. During her life, she continued to have ACTH tests quarterly to measure her cortisol levels for possible adjustment of her medicin dosage. Although the test is reliable to measure levels for treatment adjustments, it proved unreliable for the diagnosis itself, when the results are negative. Negative test results should always be followed up by at least an LDDS test, and even better, by an ultrasound, to indicate the type of Cushing's which is significant for what treatment options are available.

Large dogs
The recommended dosage of Trilostane (Vetoryl), the medication for Cushing's disease, was set too high for larger dogs. Something Viva found out the hard way. But thankfully our vet read the signs correct and adjusted her doses far below the recommended dosage for a dog of her size. Later, in 2012, research was done that confirmed that at least dogs weighing more than 30 kg. need a significant lower dosage of Trilostane, maybe even dogs weighing more than 15 kg.

Once or twice a day administering of medication
The last has not been said on this subject. Basically Trilostane works up to 8-10 hours, and that might require a twice-a-day administration, instead of an only once daily which is standard. Research is still being done, and some vets are already recommending twice daily administration of Vetoryl. At least some research here and here has shown, there is hardly risk in trying. We never got that far with Viva, it was something I was discussing with our vet, as I could see she consistently was showing more lethargic signs during the end of the day.


A dog with Cushing's requires continuous research, together with your vet, and to be vigorous about measuring the clinical signs of your dog. We always kept a Cushing's diary, and it was a great help in supporting Viva in her battle against Cushing's. Whatever research was available at the time, or not, the diary was always right.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Viva Sunday #8: The Dream

We had a dream. When we learned how much Viva loved the Danish West-coast and its open spaces, we laid down a plan to change our lives. A plan to sell the business and create more time, and move with the family to the West-coast.

It was a dream where Viva could dash through the dunes and heath fields of the West-coast together with Kenzo, free of the day-to-day fears she suffered from a life in the city. We even dreamed of spending our holidays traveling along the whole length of the Wadden Sea shores, from the north in Holland, through Germany, to the south in Denmark, with its amazing nature, wild-life and abundance of open spaces.

We thought we had time, but as you know, we ran out of it far too soon.

The master plan, Viva's plan, was set in motion long before she passed and is rolling still, up to this day. My business is sold. We are looking at places to live. It is bitter sweet. We measure homes up to Viva's standards. She would have loved that view... She would have loved to have those heath fields in her "backyard"...

Was it Viva's gift to the family to guide us down this path? Or are we trying to live a life that is no more? I believe it was Viva's gift but I am aware I still can't see clearly. The family is split. And I am told it would be a real possibility I'll find myself waking up every day, not on the West-coast, but in a place that will only be a harsh reminder of the fact Viva is no longer with us.

It is difficult to see how much of the plan was for us all, and how much of it was for Viva. Our lives were so intertwined, it is impossible to dissect what part of the dream was for who.

I am told too, I need more time. More time to see clearly. More time to figure this out. But my relationship with time is tensed, because of Viva. Those three years we were given were over in a heartbeat. Isn't time measured while you wait, and seem to play no role when you move ahead, follow your instincts and your heart, bringing you to places where things happen you never expected.

Still, the doubts I have do show, I am slowly waking up from my dream, the dream I had for Viva. Waking up I hope, will give room to a new dream.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Viva Sunday #7: Incoming!

Kenzo was the only dog in Viva's life, she trusted enough, to engage in some rough play. He was her favorite wrestle partner and body-check victim. But he was hard to knock down. The absolute premium was when she occasionally managed to let him tumble, by using strategies to ensure Kenzo either didn't see it coming, or to add some downhill advantage:

Down slope + midships! the perfect body check

Bracing for the upcoming opportunity...

Other then those perfectly timed attacks, it was a whole lot of hard work, to bring her pal down to his knees, even if she tried to seek it higher up:

Puf, puf, it's a lot of work

Maybe try from higher up

She didn't liked when he played rough in return, it was most fun when Kenzo was on the receiving end. He gladly played the victim part though, and if he would get too aroused by all the action and was looking to return some cookies, Viva send him the "off-switch look". When that didn't help, the last resort always was to come running back to me and hide under my skirts:

Enough I say Kenzo! I am pressing your "off" switch now

Dad! Help!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Viva Sunday #6: Snowflake

I lay down with Kenzo in the snow, while children shout in excitement around us. The chilling air feels clean and fresh. The bright sunlight reflecting on the white landscape forces me to shut my eyes. And there she appears, being silly and romping around. The first snow was always our highlight of the year, and I squeeze my eyes even more to hold on to the image before it will fade, and I have to open my eyes again.

Life has returned to its regular routine almost three months after her passing. She visits me still, in waves. I don't know when she will come next. This time it just took a snowflake. Sometimes she comes during the day, and other times in a dream. I am thankful for each visit. Cherished as an unexpected opportunity to again feel that love that once was. Promise me, soon to visit again, Viva.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Viva Sunday #5: Problemsolving

Viva watched in horror how I threw a ball into the surf. While Kenzo was already breaking the waves to get it, and swam back with the trophy in his mouth, she looked surprised and a little despaired at her best friend. I realized she worried for him, and didn't like the idea he was in the mids of all that splashing evil. She protested loudly in an attempt to herd Kenzo back to the beach, and on arrival he received one of his regular Viva spankings.

Like a mother, punishing her kid for doing something stupid, while hugging him at the same time, glad nothing bad had happened.

The spanking never stopped Kenzo from charging the waves. Neither did his continued surfing efforts make Viva less reluctant of a roaring and foaming ocean. Her mind was made up, this was not a good idea. It would have been easier to try and convince the late Margaret Thatcher to spend a little more on welfare.

Although she got used to the fact Kenzo did return unharmed, and started harassing him instead to surrender the ball over to her as soon as he got it out of the water, she still never ventured further than the occasional wet paw. Thinking over what to do now, a genius idea suddenly struck me. In an attempt to challenge her, I threw in two balls. Kenzo would get one, but the other one would stay adrift. Kenzo couldn't care less about the second ball, just as I expected, "just throw this one I returned again, dad"!

Viva, with excellent accounting skills, naturally did notice the remaining one and so far the plan worked. But even with a floating ball in sight, she was still firm in her decision not to go in. I continued throwing two balls, in a solid belief I could be more pig-headed than Viva, and while we waited for the balls to return either by the tide, or by Kenzo getting the picture to retrieve the lost bounty, I suddenly realized ... I had just lost the final battle.

Noticing how the ball could return itself by the tide, solved the dilemma for Viva once and for all. From now on she would keep her eyes on the ball from a safe distance as it floated on the waves, and pick it up as soon as it washed ashore, if Kenzo didn't get it first - in which case she could still refer to Plan B, to steal it from Kenzo.

Problem solved.

Come to mama...

Got it, works every time!

Eek! Alright then, most of the time ... those waves are fast!


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Viva Sunday #4: Waiting For Patience

Kenzo can be patient. I would even brag about, I taught him, if it wasn't for Viva to prove me wrong.

When we train patience excercises, Kenzo could hold utterly still, look in my eyes with that serene look of a dog that understands that if he would wait long enough, the reward will come. And when it did, he celebrated his accomplishment.

Actually Viva could do that too. Technically. She would also, unlike Kenzo, do it under loud protest. She would snort, sneeze, growl and bark in frustration, in an attempt to convince me she was being patient, and her reward was already long overdue.

In Viva's world there was no room for a patience game. If you know what you want, go for it. The direct approach. All else made no sense to her.

Her goal-oriented attitude was a big plus in other forms of training. It took her maybe half a year, to be just as good a tracker as Kenzo was, and has since, by far outperformed him. She would have been a great dog to compete with, would her environment not have stressed her out. Viva was always "on" and ready to track. Although waiting for me to lay out the actual track, was again something she never took for an opportunity to train her patience, and was done under loud protest - see picture.

Many of the cues I used with Kenzo and hadn't come around yet to teach Viva, she learned herself by observing what we did. One of those was "search", which I asked Kenzo to do if either one of them had dropped their ball and I couldn't find it.

After she observed many searches, she started to recognize the cue, and one of the times I asked Kenzo to "search", I noticed a click in Viva's look. A split second in which she froze, looked at me with big eyes, and then stepped forward in a way that expressed purpose.

She soon became an excellent searcher too. When a search was too difficult or took to long, Kenzo lost interest, but Viva always continued until she found it. She never let a mission go unaccomplished and proved she could exert patience where Kenzo couldn't. Just not the waiting kind of patience.

It is one of the things I remember to be such an unexpected gift, of having two dogs at the same time that were in many ways each other's opposite. Recognizing those differences helped me in understanding each of them better, and to appreciate their different personalities.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Viva Sunday #3: Supermodel

The photos from Viva I like best were always taken by mistake. I am a bad excuse of a photographer. I go armed with a smart-phone, only to take it out to capture some type of action like swimming and playing, or a funny moment.

Those few snapshots I have where Viva sent me that sweet, loving and also somewhat dependent look are therefore rare, and were all taken by sheer luck. Like this one:

She just had a bath, which she loaths, and I was actually in the process of capturing her post-bath-scorned look, which looked like this:

She looks so regal when she lays down with her front-legs stretched, and I remember it as a moment of being forgiven by her Royal Highness, as I kneeled down before her to take these shots.

And then there is this one where I actually was taking photos of Kenzo playing in the surf, and Viva got in front of me for some attention:

Together with this one and this one, which you already have seen, those are all I have of the "Viva look".

Although it is the look I have seen her give me most, my response was always to immediately start a cuddle or a hug, instead of reaching for my camera. It's that decision that defines if you are a good photographer or not.

Getting a better camera will probably not help me, as I obviously will continue to forget to reach for it. Allying myself with somebody that has those skills, is probably a better strategy to deliver that quality I can only dream of. Someone like my dad, who made superb photos of Kenzo and Viva, during those few visits in which we met. But living 900 km apart, could complicate that plan.

Either way, I am going out to get that camera, study all the technicalities and indulge myself in a lot of photo projects, and pretend I am improving. It is a good thing to do, it will take my mind away from the grief. I might find a photographer friend along the way too, shooting those good photos for me.

To achieve that, I will wear my soon-to-find camera in full sight for everyone to see, as bait, during the walks with Kenzo - when he feels better - pretending to be a very active and skilled photographer. We will see who will approach me and begin to talk about the camera instead of the dog. Or even better, both.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Viva Sunday #2: Shark Bait

On a normal day, my wife would make herself an "ostemad" for breakfast, the Danish version of a cheese sandwich, with cheese on rye-bread. She would sit down, eat it together with a cup of coffee, and try to wake up. Both Kenzo and Viva would beg, as she occasionally would drop something "by accident". It is as uneventful as it sounds.

We also have a tornado version. When my wife wakes up to a busy schedule ahead, she hits the ground running right out of bed. While I am downstairs waiting with coffee, we can hear her dash down the stairs, already talking, and giving orders suggestions.

Viva immediately spots the upcoming opportunity and makes herself ready. I turn my chair, to ensure an unobstructed view of the spectacle to come, although I have seen it many times before, how Viva earned her nickname, the Shark.

A woman in full multitasking mode is an impressive sight. While holding the cheese sandwich in one hand, she uses her free hand to pick up bags, open cupboards, scramble with papers, you name it. In the mean time, her temper is rising, as I fall behind more and more and are unable to guess what she wants me to do next. Her arms join in on the talking, and start pointing the cheese sandwich in all kind of directions in a rapid pace.

Viva is following the movements of the cheese sandwich with every fiber in her body. Waiting for the moment in which it is being pointed in her direction. Or, when my wife bends over to reach something in a low cupboard and the sandwich is on eye height. Or, when she needs both hands and temporarily lays the sandwich down on the edge of the kitchen counter. Or, when ...

It just took a fraction of a second. Viva always wins. With two bruised fingers, my wife shouts, tramps angry on the floor, and just before I expect all hell to break loose this time, she sits down, exhales, and starts laughing.

Viva never let my wife start a day in stress.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Viva Sunday #1: Reflection

It's that time of the year again where we reflect and give it some thought on what to do with the blog. Usually I would have made a list of "The 10 most ...whatever... posts of 2013" and had a go at staring into the crystal ball, together with other bloggers in the "Pet Blogger Challenge" - which I just heard is going to be organized this year again by Amy and Edie.

Obviously, looking back at the blog, or 2013 for that matter, always ends at that same focal point for me. Viva. What is left, after our road-trip in her footsteps, are the memories about her. She will therefore still be a part of this blog in the time to come, as she still is a part of our life. I couldn't continue the blog otherwise. It would become a stranger to us if we didn't.

During the holidays we went through the hundreds of photo's we have of her, fueling the memories we have. And we thought it would be a good idea to share something about Viva each Sunday to remember her by. Maybe just a photo, or just a short story, I haven't given the format a lot of thought and let it allow to go where it wants to go. I promise it will be positive though.

For our #1 post, this photo which I used as our Twitter badge a long time ago, and I am sure many of you have never seen before. It is Viva, giving me that special look she had a patent on, that always melted me from day 1 - although Kenzo is doing a good job as well:

Happy New Year, may all your wishes come true, and hope to see you in 2014 !

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Chasing Sunsets

Three weeks of going in Viva's footsteps are coming to an end. We visited Denmark, Holland and Germany. I dread the upcoming return to daily life. In which I am sure to utterly fail, for a while to come.

A good friend popped the question, which I knew had to come one day, "Why are you doing this to yourself?". She wondered why I prolonged my grief by three weeks. Why couldn't I let go. Wasn't it better to try to move forward?

I didn't answer, although I thanked her silently for being worried about my mental state of health. And I couldn't answer because I wouldn't even know how to answer that question. I don't know what's best. I wouldn't recommend anything we did during Viva's passing to anybody, as grief is a personal process. I can only say I followed my heart, as that is where Viva is. And following it, is therefore the closest I can get to her. Grief follows no logic.

My 5-year old "grand-daughter" - it would take too long to explain our exact relationship - seems to get that. When she visited us with her family on one of the days we were at the West-coast, she brought gifts for Kenzo and Viva, even though her family explained beforehand Viva was in heaven. Not that her family is religious, but how do you explain to a 5-year old, that one of the dogs she grew up with is no more. Heaven is handy, also for the not-religious.

And while the family was busy shopping, I was anxious we couldn't make it to see the sunset. Something I always did with Viva on our trips. With only half-an-hour to go, I explained them I had to go now, to chase sunsets with Viva, and a little hand grabbed mine, saying she wanted to join.

It didn't make sense to the family and I understand that. Yet, I also know it did make sense to me and a 5-year old. We watched a beautiful sunset, and silently missed Viva together. The little girl had an awesome day visiting a swimming hall, play-ground, got presents and candy. When her mother called at the end of the evening to ask how her day has been, she never mentioned any of that: "We are missing Viva. She is in heaven now you know." Grief has no age.

Being spiritual or religious has never been me either. But I have to admit, the last three weeks have been a very spiritual voyage. It became a pilgrimage. Even though I didn't seek it. It just happened. Or?

Another good friend, although "virtual" this time, told me how her dog let her know she was alright after she passed. That was a beautiful thought to me. But me not being spiritual or religious, would I even notice? Would I miss it, when Viva would try to tell me she was alright?

A rainbow appeared out of nowhere, when we approached the very first beach of the trip. It sent chills down my spine, immediately followed by a warmth, I never felt before.

"Hello Viva", I whispered, smiling.

Maybe I was seeking it after all. Grief can adjust the image you have of yourself. At least, it was a wonderful feeling to see that rainbow, and I needed it to be Viva.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Campaign in Remembrance of Viva

If it wasn't for our local shelter "Dyreværnet", here in Copenhagen, I would never have met Viva.

And they didn't rescued her once, but twice, in the first 5 years of her life.

Until Viva came and lived with us, her final and loving home.

Forever thankful I am, for the 3½ years we got together, where Viva's touch changed me into who I am today.

I hope you want to join me in supporting her shelter with a donation as an act to remember Viva by, share her goodness, and help the shelter to take care of dogs like Viva, so they too can find a loving home.

If you decide to do so, we would love to thank you with a personal message, so please mark your donation to the shelter with "Viva". Then we can send you a postcard with Margie King's painting of beautiful Viva as a Thank You.

How to join
You donate directly to the shelter. Their donation page is here:

The page is in Danish, but it shouldn't be too difficult to fill it out with this explanation:
  1. On the top, in the grey box, you can chose an amount in Danish currency- a quick currency converter: 100 Danish kroner is approximately 13,50 Euro.
  2. "Vælg betalingsmetode", chose payment method, her you pick "Dankort/kreditkort", to pay with your credit-card.
  3. "Navn", your full name
  4. "Att", attention, here you fill out "Viva", this is important, to get the postcard.
  5. "Gade", street.
  6. "Husnr.", house number.
  7. "Postnummer & By", postal code and city.
  8. "Land", country.
  9. "Telefonnummer", telephone number.
  10. "E-mailadrese", email.
  11. Check the last checkbox, "Ja, jeg accepter betingelserne", meaning you accept the conditions.
  12. Press "Send", and the payment dialog starts.
Alternatively, you can also transfer money directly to the shelter's bank account, account number 5329-0242143, "Arbejdernes Landsbank". Remember to pass your address information and "Viva" along in your transfer.

Thank you so much for your donation, and we are looking forward to send you the postcard with Viva's painting. Bless you!


"Dyreværnet" relies solely on donations from the public. They are the only no-kill shelter in Denmark and re-home all animals, either furred or feathered.

Graphic artwork by MissyRedBoots.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tour de Viva with a Clumsy Casanova

This Tour is for me, now Kenzo is doing good so soon - more about him later - and I would really want to return to the places Viva enjoyed so much on our travels, and remember some of the best memories we have of her.

She was never a fan of driving in a car, but the destinations we chose always made it up to her in tenfold. She loved to dash on the beaches of the North-Sea and dip her toes in the water while harassing Kenzo. She could hike the West-Danish heath fields and the Norwegian tundra's endlessly, while scanning the horizon on the hunt for game, and enjoying the simple fact she was on an adventure, alone with her family. And at the end of the day, enjoy a quiet sunset with us.

We are packing, and leave for a 3-week road-trip in Viva's footsteps. Except Norway, that's too cold this time of the year, even for us. I think it would be great to do now, and not wait, as it still feels like she is with us every moment of our daily life. There is not a walk we have, or a cup of coffee we can drink for that matter, where we not think about, what Viva would have done at that moment. Memories are good, at least for me, I cherish them, and try to write down as many as I can. She still makes me laugh, like she always has.

It is not very well-planned, thought-through, and a spur of the moment thing. But that's me. And now Kenzo is doing so much better, I am allowed to be myself.

Yes, Kenzo. He bounced back remarkably soon, and I can only be happy for that. I like to think that some of the additional things I did might have helped him a lot. One of them was to take him with me everywhere, I haven't left him a minute alone since Viva passed. The other thing was to stake-out the trails of all his former sweethearts.

What can I say, he loved it, and so did the girls. He immediately started to "protect" them as well, in typical Kenzo-style. Sometimes I wonder if the vet actually forgot something while neutering him, or Kenzo hasn't got the memo. Of course, all that showing off and impressing the ladies can backfire, which it also did, when he tripped on a bottle hiding under the leaves in a ditch, underlining his well-deserved nickname of Clumsy Casanova, and finished the trail with a limp.

If Viva would have been with him, she would have never allowed it! Always the clever one.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kenzo's Grief

Kenzo is grieving. Also for him, time is needed, to heal.

On the day of Viva's passing, I took her body home with me for Kenzo to understand what happened.

It had rained the whole week, but on that day the sun was shining abundantly.

So instead of taking Viva inside, I laid her down in the sun at the start of the driveway to our house. The sun warmed her body and gave her that beautiful golden glow.

Kenzo frantically sniffed the air around Viva, with his nose slightly up. He only came close to her paws, which he touched gently with his nose, still sniffing.

He remained restless and acted like he wanted to go for a walk, so I let him. I followed him down the driveway. At the end of it, just before the point where we usually would have turned left into the forest, Kenzo stopped.

He went straight back to Viva and sniffed the air around her one more time, and then retreated a couple of yards, where he laid down, with his side to Viva and his face upright, pointing towards the road. People and dogs passed by in the distance, but Kenzo didn't move, neither did he made a sound.

I think - I hope - he understood Viva was no more.

After I returned Viva and said the last farewell, we tried to follow our usual routine for the rest of the day and the days to come as much as we could for Kenzo's sake. He seemed himself. We made sure he didn't experienced we were sad. We haven't changed anything in the house, and Viva's things are still where they used to be.

But he is not his bubbly self, because of one tiny difference. For each walk, training session, play or cuddle, I have to invite him. Usually it is Kenzo that invites me. Therefore I know, that first on the day where Kenzo will seek contact once more, he has had the time he needed to give Viva a new place in his life.

Next to the family, Viva was the center focal point of Kenzo's life and purpose, always trying to keep his "big sister" safe. Although I have never before helped a dog through mourning a companion, if I listen good enough and let him "talk", I know we can make it through Viva's loss together.

It is still early, Kenzo just needs more time, like the rest of us. It is only natural. He will be alright again one day, and all I can do is support him getting there. Finding this purpose, gives me strength too.


Monday, November 11, 2013

A Deep Breath

After taking a very deep breath, Operation Spoil Viva was launched.

We sticked to our daily routine and our usual places, while showering Viva in special treats, play, cuddles, and undivided attention - alright, Kenzo got his part as well.

Avoiding anything that could add stress, like anything new, we went for all things she knows and loves, just a lot of it, cramped together in a few days.

We invited some of Viva's favorite people to stop by for a last hug, if they, for Viva's sake, could make it passed the "sobbing not allowed" sign by the door. At one point Viva was being cuddled by three of her favorite persons at once. I could swear I heard her purr like a cat.

Each morning we took another deep breath to kick-start the new day, got charged by the fun Viva was having, send her positive vibes and more fun in return, until the upward spiral crashed the entire family exhausted on the couch to see a bad movie to fall asleep on.

It was good, these last few days. Viva was happy despite her nose, and I feel blessed to be given the opportunity to say goodbye to Viva while she was still feeling good, with fun, instead of tears. They will be allowed to flow later.

While I write this, she is sleeping peacefully beside my desk. She is dreaming, and talking in her sleep, and by the sound of it, she might very well be on an epic squirrel hunt.

Tomorrow - today when you read this - Viva will fall into one more sleep, and will rest in our hearts.

Then we will take one more very deep breath, and embark on Operation Support Kenzo, to help him through his grief first.

Thank you all, for the love you send to Viva and the family. Your kind words, poems, comforting messages, prayers and support, are all deeply cherished. It warms me tremendously to know Viva touched so many.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Rock

The last photo I made, before the "steak"
When I would have a nose that was sore and looked like a raw steak, I would feel pretty sorry for myself.

Not Viva.

She invented some new tactics, on how to play with Kenzo, crash through low bushes, and greet her favorite people, without her nose being touched. I learned you can actually greet people with your side - or your butt - first.

And when the nose gets too painful or itchy, she shows me with some grins, or rubbing the side of her face, it is time for her pain relief.

She has always been bossy.

When we train, and I missed a perfect behavior, she reminded me so far with two quick nose bumps on the pocket where I keep the treats. Tap-tap. That has been exchanged by two snorts. She really wants to remain in charge of my training.

And she is as excited as always to go for walks. Sniff out the local dog newspaper - meet friends, play and act crazy. Learn the youngsters how to be polite to a lady.

Viva The Rock.

Me? Not so much. I second-guess myself and my vet. I go on wild-goose chases for treatments that don't seem to exist. I lost my control over the situation.

Fact is, DLE is illusive, and I have to face I might not be able to help Viva with this. This is her battle.

Thank god she is The Rock. And I am her biggest supporter.


Update November 7:

Viva's nose is deteriorating rapidly now.
The vet, bless her honesty, suggested it might be time to say our goodbyes. We still have a little time left to let her go without suffering.

I have to do what's best for her, and will use the next couple of days to spoil her rotten.

I write this to all of you beautiful people that have been so supportive for Viva and me during the last years, through all her ups and downs. You all helped me help Viva having a good life and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for that. I will give her a kiss from each of you.

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