We got Hank—Sir Henry Rustbucket—late February 1991. He was 3 months old and already had big floppy feet, and when we first saw him he ran towards the Boy and grabbed the tail of his red tank top and wouldn’t let go. I think we all knew within 2 minutes that we’d found our dog.

Smart, sweet, goofy… Hank refused to be trained. He never learned to chase after a ball or a Frisbee and then bring it back—making us wonder where his “retriever” gene was—and getting him to heel was an exercise in frustration. He loved the water, though, and for the first 6 years we had him no water source was safe: his water bucket was a huge knee-high plastic tub, because anything less he would knock over just to knock it over (and sometimes we would find him stuck with his front legs in it). He happily chased the sprinkler when we watered the lawn, and lounged hot days away in his own plastic wading pool.

For the first 6 months we had him, Hank fed the neighborhood stray cats. A litter was born under our house, and every morning when we fed him, Hank would hang back and wait for the kittens to come out and eat, and only then would he eat.

When we moved to North Dakota, out of necessity he became an indoor dog. At first he missed the freedom of being in the yard where he could bark at everything in sight, but he quickly realized that being inside meant More Attention. If the Boy was in the living room, the Boy would touch him. Constantly. Watching TV, the Boy would put his foot on Hank, which is exactly what he wanted. That set the stage for the next 6 years—Hank craved attention, which to him meant Being Touched, and horrible people that we are, we caved. The Boy and the Spouse Thingy would keep a hand or a foot on him when in the living room. If no one else was around and I was in my office, Hank lounged beside my chair. Usually in a position that meant I would roll over his tail or foot when I backed up.

Hank was so much a member of this family, that vehicles were purchased with him in mind. We bought our first pickup truck to haul him comfortably from California to Texas; after we totaled it years later we bought a station wagon, and just before this last move, another pickup truck. His comfort was just as important as everyone else’s comfort, even if it meant giving up the spiffy Mazda in order to give him enough room to stretch on our moves.

Comfort was mostly what we had in mind this morning. Last night Hank’s breathing because very labored, and very noisy. Darth Vader with allergies and an asthma attack. He had refused food all day, but finally ate some hamburger and rice in late afternoon, and then 4 bites of a steak in the evening—and damn, that made him happy. Steak, one of his favorite foods.

But he was still breathing hard and obviously uncomfortable, and couldn’t get his back legs up underneath him in order to stand up. This morning, his breathing was even worse, and he needed help to get up, period. He would walk a few feet and then stop. So Spouse Thingy called the vet and we took him in late this morning. We both had hope, but realistically we both knew.

When we got there, we lifted Hank out of the back of the truck onto his feet, and he walked proudly all the way to the door, and once inside collapsed on the floor, too tired to move any further. And that was the last time he walked anywhere.

They went through the motions, weighing him and taking a history of what’s been going on with him since his last visit. The vet came in and poked and prodded, saying that she could feel one kidney was hard, and that she had a hunch he had cancer. Probably a mass on his spleen, though without x-rays and more blood tests she couldn’t be sure. The problem as we saw it, was that no matter what it was, because his liver was shot already, he couldn’t undergo surgery. She listed options, but it was with a “please don’t make me put him through this” look.

And we never would put him through more pain. It hurt like hell, but knowing that every option lead to the same inevitable conclusion, we had to let him go.

The doc sedated him first—and seeing how relaxed he because, I realized how uncomfortable he must have been these past few weeks. The pinched look left his face, he drifted off to La-La land, and set his head down. His breathing, while still fast and labored, eased up a touch. A few minutes later, when he was comfortable, she came back in to give him that last injection. It was quick; he stopped breathing before she finished. He went very quietly, and very peacefully.

As hard as it is, we know we did the right thing. And I keep thinking that Hank is up there at the Rainbow Bridge, finally able to run and jump, and see his momma-cat Dusty. But damn, we’re going to miss him. Seriously, completely miss him.



Oooooh yeah! 100 laps!

Well, not yourface specifically, but someone’s face.
Right there in it!

It took an hour and seventeen minutes (or thereabouts) and those last 15 were pretty sloppy looking, but sloppy works. Now I need to work on shaving time off of it. Well, presuming I can do it again and not drown.

Did I mention what a sweetheart HMIC is? I emailed him about the timing of publishing ’Boxer Shorts now (not wanting it to come out at a time that would conflict with the release of his book Dancing Barefoot) and he was totally cool with it. So, it’s been uploaded to the printer and I’m awaiting notice that it’s being set for a proof… Pretty soon the monkeys at the WWDN Soapbox will have their very first book. And hopefully we can do another one this year.

Hank update: he’ll eat, as long as it’s people food. He scarfed down meatloaf yesterday, and today after turning his nose up at the prescription dog food, he ate a hot dog and piece of cheese, and later the meat out of a roast beef sandwich. We know we’re setting him up to be stubborn and only eat people food, but it’s either that or let him starve.

The Kaopectate seems to have worked; he’s still very, very tired and sleeps more than not, but he’s obviously enjoying going out to the front yard, and he’s eating, even if it isn’t the best stuff for him. I’m starting to have a little hope.



Update on Hank: he seemed a bit perkier today, and ate a reasonable amount of food. Spouse Thingy got him to eat several tablespoons at a time of this prescription food that pretty much looks like barf; by this evening he’d eaten about half a can. He still had a little bit of diarrhea, so I went to the store and got some Kaopectate (I didn’t want to make him suffer through it all weekend) and a medicine syringe. That seemed to help quite a bit—I made meatloaf for dinner and noticed he smelled it after it had been in the oven for about 20 minutes. When it was done he sat in the living room where he could see us and watched very closely, whining a couple of times to make sure we knew he was still sitting there. I’m a pushover; I had already prepared a plate for him, it was in the kitchen cooling down. When I gave it to him, he inhaled.

We’ve also been taking him out in the front yard a lot, so he can watch the kids play, an they come over to pet him. The attention is doing a lot for him, too. He still looks like he doesn’t feel quite up to snuff, but today he looked a heck of a lot better. So, fingers are crossed.

Yesterday, while Hank lounged in the shade under the tree, Spouse Thingy and I put some flower beds in. It still looks a bit sparse, but a couple of weeks and some Miracle Gro should take care of that. It might even look spiffy in a few weeks.

80 laps in the pool, without stopping. Oohyeah!


4:45 a.m.

I went to bed at 2 a.m. this morning; I stayed up a couple hours later than usual because Hank seemed a little restless and I didn’t want to leave him alone.

I awoke at 4:45 to the sound of frantic whining, so I got up and went downstairs; Hank had barfed all over the carpet and struggled to get up and go to the back door. I let him out, cleaned up his merry little pukefest, and then went outside to check on him, because he was taking an unusual amount of time out there.

He was lying in the grass; when I stepped onto the back porch he tried to get up so he could squat and do what he needed to do, but he just couldn’t quite keep himself up. So I tiptoed through the grass (looking out for previously dropped land mines) and helped him up, and back into the house. Then cleaned him up a bit, because he fell where he had squatted.

I couldn’t just turn the light out and go back upstairs. He looked a little anxious, so I plopped down in my chair and turned up the sound on the TV (which we’ve been leaving on at night, muted, so he has a better night light.) Hank was restless and grunted off and on, until around 6 a.m., when he finally fell into a deep sleep, where he stayed for a good 90 minutes.

So did I; once I realized he was snoozing, I let myself fall asleep, as well, with one mommy-tuned ear open in case he woke up feeling sick, or just lonely.

By 9 a.m. Spouse Thingy was up and I went to bed for 3 hours; he got a little food down Hank, and the called the vet to get the blood test results and to fill him in on my nocturnal adventures with Sir Henry Rustbucket..

His kidney functions are a little off; not enough to indicate kidney failure yet, but enough to explain how crappy he feels. It’s one of those things that without some further, and much more expensive testing, they really don’t know what’s causing it; it could resolve itself, or we could have to decide how much we want to spend to find out what the root cause is.

For now he’s on a new anti-nausea medicine, plus Pepcid (pepsid?) AC, in hopes that his tummy calms down. And there’s a different dog food that’s pretty bland, but something he doesn’t turn away from, so we’ll try this for a couple days and see how he goes.

If he doesn’t get better, I don’t really know what we’ll do. We can take the next step and have x-rays and ultrasound done, but I don’t know how much good knowing will do. If there’s a blockage, it’s not like he can have surgery to fix it; his liver can’t take the anesthesia. And we now how hard (and expensive) dialysis is for an animal… we already know we won’t put him through that.

Well, I know what we’ll do if it’s unfixable. Neither one of us will hang on for the sake of hanging on, to spare ourselves the pain of making that decision, but dammit, I’m not ready to make it.

Selfishly, I need for him to get better. I don’t want any other options.



Sooner or later I’m going to develop gills; well, that’d be helpful, anyway, at least then I wouldn’t need a snorkel to breathe while in the pool. Bit by bit I’m increasing my endurance—I started out a couple months back just walking in the pool, now I’m swimming, and I’m up to 80 laps. A little over a mile.

My next goal is to hit 100 laps, and after that I’d like to push to do the 100 within an hour.

Thing is, I’m working out faithfully, and putting serious effort into it, but the only result I’m seeing is an increase in endurance. I’ve lost no weight, and my measurements are the same. It’s a little discouraging, to be honest.

The state of Ohio finally came through last week, and I have the last of the paperwork I need in order to open for business. Today I finalized setting up an account with the printer … so this week (providing that 1-Spouse Thingy being on leave doesn’t distract me too much, because we are having fun, and 2-I need to email the Head Monkey and make sure I won’t step all over his literary toes) Inkblot Books’ first book should go to print: the collective works of the ’Boxers at WWDN. It’s titled ’Boxer Shorts, and I’m hoping it’s the first of many to come.

Speaking of books going to print; my first two are going back into print soon. Charybdis should go to print again in the next couple of weeks, and As Simple As That a few weeks after that. The new cover to Charybdis is amazing—the photo image is the work of Mark Carpenter (aka VeganDude). Snoop through his photos—the cover is the photo titled “Moving On.”

I still don’t have a cover for ASAT yet… but I’m sure it’ll be spiffy, too.


Our Very Expensive Day

$600 for new brakes. Why so much? Because the dillhole who “looked” at them in March was a liar. “Oh no, you don’t need new brakes, you have 50% life left on the pads.”

Um, yeah.

So from March to now the front brakes wore down so far that there was no pad left and the drums were ruined. Sure.

Then we took Hank to the vet.

Like any sick toddler will do, we got him there and he perked up. His eyes were a little brighter, he didn’t breath like he was gurgling water, and he didn’t make a fuss as he was poked and prodded and stretched in impossible directions. He did wage a quiet protest when the vet shoved a catheter up his winky for urine collection. But he can hardly be blamed for that.

The physical didn’t cough up anything that would immediately point to what could be wrong. Hank is hypothyroid, and based on the symptoms, his medication dose might need to be adjusted upwards. The vet also drew lots of blood (and quite easily from a dog whose jugular is not where it’s supposed to be) so we should have the results of that back on Wednesday.

What was most obvious was that at no point did the vet suggest that Hank might be past his prime and wandering into that “maybe it’s time” territory. His attitude was more like “here’s a problem, let’s figure out the cause and fix it.”

So here’s to hoping he can figure it out.
Without bankrupting us.



Our lives, it seems, are pretty much revolving around the dog these days. It starts in the morning, getting out of bed, with the first thought being, “Will he even be alive when I get downstairs?” and palpable relief when he is. Then comes guilt for hoping, and then guilt because, after all, the very idea that him dying might be a good thing is just abhorrent… Neither one of us wants Hank to be in pain at all, yet at the same time we’re not ready for him to be gone, either.

He stopped eating any dog food, even his favorite things. He turns away at peanut butter—something he normally would be all over me for. He willingly drinks water, but until yesterday that was about it.

Yesterday—a moment of providence, I think—there was a vet on the noon news, and he mentioned that when elderly pets loose their appetites, they’ll often eagerly eat hamburger and rice. Spouse Thingy called before he left work, so I had him pick up some ground beef on his way, and I made a big skillet of very lean hamburger and brown rice for Hank (heh, I didn’t even cook dinner for us.) After it cooled I put a plate full down in front of Hank, expecting he’d turn his head away again … but he ate it. Happily.

I made enough for 2 and a half more meals; he had a little bit later last night and the rest for breakfast and dinner today. So this evening I made more, and hopefully he’ll eagerly eat some tonight and tomorrow.

Regardless… Monday we’re calling the vet and seeing if we can get him in. We need for the vet to see him, listen to him breath (which I can hear at night all the way upstairs; it’s like listening to Darth Vader hyperventilate), maybe do blood work, and then hope that it shows something. Something that can be treated.

I know, realistically, that Hank is very old, and he may just be winding down. And we won’t force him to live through a cloud of pain just to spare ourselves the pain of losing him … but I can still hope.


The Windmills Of My Mind


Wil Wheaton’s very first book is due out soon; pre-orders are being taken now. I don’t know for sure, but this might be a limited press run, so if you even remotely think you might want it, order it asap.

Why? ’Cause Thumpa said so ;)

Seriously, Wil can write. He has a unique writing voice and the ability to suck readers into his stories. And what I’m seriously looking forward to: the conclusion of SpongeBob Vega$Pants!

60 laps today!
Ok, I have no idea what “w00t” means, but I’m pretty sure it’s exclamatory. In a good way.

My car needs new brakes.
This after being told in March they were fine.

Quick, everyone send me $100. If all 4 of you who read this send me a hundred bucks, I can get them fixed.

What do you mean by “fucktard”?

Really now.
Go order Wil’s book.


52 … 52 … 52

Oooh yeah. 52 laps in the pool, baby! I may not be the fastest old lady fishy in the water, but my endurance is getting there.

Last week, Saturday I think, I discovered that my swimsuit had become quite see-through in the back, so I’m wearing mens’ swim trunks and a t-shirt now. Much more comfortable. Now, think about it. Men want women in these skin tight lycra swimsuits, but if you suggest they slip into a Speedo, they’re horrified. So men have these big trunks available to them, while 99% of womens’ suits are like a second skin.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who must be designing womens’ swimwear.

I still need a good pair of swim fins.
Well, I want a good pair, not necessarily need them.



I had so many productive plans for today: clean the house, do laundry, get some writing done, cure cancer and oversee world peace. Spouse Thingy is working, there’s nothing worthwhile on TV to distract me—a perfect day for Getting Things Done.

At 2:20 a.m. I heard whining coming from downstairs; I went to check on Hank, who was in the hallway near the bottom of the stairs, looking a little confused and/or lonely. So I scratched his head, tried to put him outside in case he needed to pee—he refused to move—offered him water (which he refused), so I went back upstairs.

Forty five minutes later the whining started again, a little louder. So I went downstairs, turned on the TV, called him into the living room—for this he got up—and stayed there until Spouse Thingy got up a little after 6 this morning. That’s all Hank wanted, I guess. Someone to be down there with him. He snoozed, I tried to sleep in the chair, not with much success. When Spouse Thingy got up I went to bed until 9 a.m., when I had to get up to give Hank his meds.

I am Sofa King tired now.
I wonder why.

I am getting more worried about him; now he won’t even eat the Usually Forbidden Moist & Meaty. He’ll eat Alpo chunks off the end of a fork, but if we give him exclusively wet food he’ll get the runs. He has no zip. Doesn’t want to move unless he has to. We took him off the new pain med, thinking that might be upsetting his stomach, but if he’s not perked up by Monday we’ll have to take him back to the vet.

I have a bad feeling…



I wore shorts today.
While working out, I wore shorts, and did not care whom I blinded with my white-white-white legs.
I did not care if the ample size of my legs bothered anyone.
I freaking wore shorts!

The world will end...... now.


Eau d’Doggy

Thirteen year old Hank is seriously slowing down. For the last 12 days his appetite has been basically gone, and getting him to even take his meds has turned into a twice daily Event. Without any food in his system, he’s had zero energy; the poor guy looks absolutely exhausted.

On a whim last night I got out some cat food to see if he’d take it off a spoon. Well, being Forbidden Fruit, he went for it. And while he was snarfing that down, Spouse Thingy opened a can of dog food to see if momentum would keep him going. Hank stayed nice and comfy on his bed, and Spouse Thingy fed him a can of Alpo, bite by bite, off of a fork.

He polished off the entire can. Almost delicately, I might add, nipping the chunks off way-too-stinky doggy heaven off the end of a fork like an old aristocratic widow. If he’d had a little pinky, he would have stuck it up in the air.

This morning, I got his pills down him, and plopped some dry food into his bowl. He didn’t even sniff at it. I waited two hours, until that look in his eyes got to me. It was “I am so freaking hungry but I don’t have the energy to get up.” So I got a can, and took Spouse Thingy’s lead… I sat on the floor and fed him individual chunks of what looked like barf regurgitated three or four times and smelled even worse. But he ate it. And later on, he downed a little Usually Forbidden Food, Moist & Meaty fake burger for dogs.

For the first time in over a week, Hank is now farting his ass off.
That’s a good thing.
I think…

Ummm. Yeah.



I think my brain is numb.

I’m about three-quarters of the way through the book I’m working on (writing, not reading), and I feel like I’m moving in slow motion. I know exactly where I want the story to go, what’s going to happen, how it ends, but the narrative just isn’t happening. The dialogue is fine—if I could do the rest of it in static conversations between characters, I’d be done within a week.

‘Course, then the book would suck.

I’ve had moments of writer’s brain cramp before—not exactly writer’s block, just a temporary work slowdown—but nothing like this. Not where it’s like pulling teeth to get words out of my brain and onto the computer.


Some people who know me might think that’s justice, considering how often they’ve wanted me to just shut up.