Monday, June 27, 2011

A Birthday Tribute

Last night I finally looked at some pictures I'd downloaded from my point-and-shoot that were taken a couple of weeks ago when my friend Kati was visiting. Since I so rarely use that camera, the beginning of the bunch actually included a few videos from the last weeks of Celtic's life. Since yesterday would have been his 14th birthday, I started to put together a little video montage in his honor, but of course I didn't have time to finish it until this evening. We miss the little munchkin so much, sometimes it's hard to even look at his sweet face without being sad. Then again, it also warms my heart to see that he was still so happy in the last weeks of his life--the second couple of clips were actually taken just 4 days before he died.

As much as we love and adore our dear Hope and adorable Fresco, our love for them will never quite be the same as our love for Celtic and Steeler. The first furry babies to steal our hearts were our sweet Beagle-ish boys.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bad Mother Father

First of all, I have to just say that I feel like a bad wife, because this morning I forgot to give my doggy daddy the Father's Day cards I bought him from the dogs and from myself! I don't think I even remembered it was Father's Day until I got to church and started seeing all the people with crazy mustaches for the Father's Day mustache contest. Yes, our church is a little goofy, but we love it!

Although I didn't remember Father's Day this morning, thankfully I remembered it earlier in the week and sent my dad a paper card and also an email card. I know he already opened it earlier today, but I just have to share it here as well because I think it's hilarious.

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

There's just something so funny about seeing my Pops beating up on people! Happy Father's Day to my dad and all the other fathers out there!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Amazing Cancer Treatment

Wow. This morning I started watching a documentary online that a friend of my mom's sent me a link to, and although I'm only half way through it, I'm already just blown away. It's about a doctor in Texas who is successfully treating many patients with very aggressive cancers that haven't responded to conventional chemotherapy and radiation. His name is Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, and he's a medical doctor and Ph.D biochemist who has been attacked over and over by the FDA because his treatments do not involve conventional drugs made by pharmaceutical companies. His gene-targeted cancer medicines called Antineoplastons, which he discovered in the 1970s and produces in his own labs, are about 5 times as successful as chemo drugs in clinical trials, and they don't have any adverse side effects. It's crazy and scary that the information about them hasn't been more widely disseminated since the research has been around for decades!

The cool thing is, I'm watching the movie for free today on the Burzynski Movie website, and you can too for just a few more days--right here on my blog!

Burzynski: Cancer Is Serious Business from BurzynskiMovie on Vimeo.

If you don't have the time to watch the whole movie, at least watch the clips and trailers and read articles about the film. Especially for those of us who have had so much cancer in our families, this story is absolutely amazing.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Crossroads Dog Rescue

Since I'm on the subject of dog pictures, I wanted to share a few pictures I've had the pleasure of taking in the last couple of weeks. I mentioned back when I quit my job in November that I was looking forward to volunteering for a new local dog rescue I'd gotten connected with the year before. When they were just starting out they didn't have much that I could help with, but now that Crossroads Dog Rescue is a growing organization, they have lots of foster dogs who need good pictures for the Internets! I'm super excited to be able to help them in that way!

So a couple of times in the last two weeks I've gone to meet the founder/president to do pictures of their adoptable dogs. It's been so much fun to meet the pups and so exciting to feel like I'm contributing to the world of dog rescue again! They specialize in neonatal rescue, mostly taking in pregnant or new mothers with full litters, since newborn puppies have such a hard time staying healthy in shelter environments. The pups are raised in a healthy and safe home with lots of human interaction, and they generally get adopted as soon as they are old enough to leave their mom, who eventually gets adopted as well. In the less that two years that Crossroads has been an official rescue organization, they've saved and adopted out almost 100 dogs already!

As Crossroads continues to grow and add foster homes to their network, they'll have more and more rescue puppies and dogs to choose from, so check out their blog or Facebook page to keep up with all their adoptable furry friends. You can also contact them at crossroadsdogs (at) if you're interested in becoming one of their licensed foster families. Oh, and check out my recent pictures of their adoptable dogs! Most of those pictured have already been adopted, so hopefully they'll have more pups for me to photograph soon!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

A Dog's Life

Last Wednesday I spent much of the day in Topeka completing the arrangements for our boys' final resting place. I say boys' and not boy's because Steeler's remains were actually involved as well as Celtic's. When Steeler died so suddenly five years ago, we had no idea where to have him cremated, so we took him to the Lawrence Humane Society where I volunteered. They were kind enough to do the cremation free of charge, but since their equipment wasn't exactly state of the art, let's just say the remains weren't processed very well. We didn't worry too much about it though, since it was always our intention to lay Steeler to rest with his brother when this time came.

So anyway, I took the little can containing Steeler's remains over to Topeka to the wonderful folks at Heavenly Pet Memorials. I'd discovered them on the Internet a week or so before Celtic passed, and I just can't say enough about how great they were. They were kind enough to take care of Celtic's body on a holiday weekend and also to process Steeler's remains with Celtic's for no extra charge. Now we have their finely processed ashes all put together in a beautiful and safely sealed velvet bag. Heavenly Pet Memorials had a big selection of urns and boxes, and they helped me pick out a beautiful box in which we'll eventually put their remains. Not only that, but they practically counseled me as well. Jody was the consultant there last Wednesday, and she sat there patiently as I talked about our dogs, cried a little, and even showed her pictures. I was there probably a good half hour, and she couldn't have been more caring and consoling.

When I got home from that trip to Topeka, I immediately started the search for the perfect picture to have engraved/etched onto the box. In my mind, I knew the one I wanted to use and remembered the frame it used to be in, but I couldn't for the life of me find the frame or the original in our old boxes of prints. I probably searched through pictures for at least 8 hours total before I finally found the negative on a roll that had no other pictures of the dogs at all. In the process of searching though, I found so many other pictures of the boys that I really loved, so now I'm not even sure if the sought after picture is even the one I want to use! Here are the ones that I'm most strongly considering--I would love your input in the comments!

From their puppyhood

At age 1

At about 3 years old

At about age 5

At age 9, just before Steeler died

For me, searching through all of those pictures was very therapeutic. As I looked back on the very full and active life that Celtic had, it was more difficult to be sad about his passing. As I was reminded of how close he and his brother were, it made me that much happier to think of them reunited in heaven.

During the great picture search I was also inspired to scan and then edit all of my favorite pictures--since I was a pretty horrible photographer in those pre-digital days! Someday I'll hopefully have time to put it to music in a better format, but for now, I hope you enjoy the slideshow of their lives!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


My aunt just sent this to me and it's seriously one of the funniest things I've seen in quite a while. Of course, since it has over 2 million hits, I'm guessing you may have already seen it. Just in case you haven't though, this one's a keeper.

This guy is adorable, but apparently not quite as smart as most Border Collies. Maybe he's just obsessive-compulsive?

Sunday, June 05, 2011


Yesterday my wonderful husband and I celebrated our anniversary, and although I don't normally like to toot my own horn, I have to say I'm kind of proud of us. Although 16 years didn't seem like that big of a deal last year, 17 seems pretty impressive. Maybe it's because 17 seems like it's on the upside of 20 instead of the downside of 15? Maybe it's because people often gasped when I told them what anniversary we were celebrating? I'm not sure exactly why, but when I say we've been married 17 years that sounds like a really long time. Not in a bad way at all--just in the sense that not many of our peers have been married more than ten.

Really though, I shouldn't be prideful about our lengthy marriage at all, because it's really not through our own merit and hard work that we've made it through 17 years. Honestly, being married to Chad couldn't possibly be considered work. God has just blessed me with a loving, affectionate, caring, helpful, loyal and incredibly supportive husband, and He's blessed us with a fairly low-maintenance relationship. We still have so much fun together and share so many interests; we just don't have to try very hard to get along. We love spending time together more than most couples we know--maybe because we are still such good friends.

I often hear people say that marriage is hard work, but by the grace of God, ours hasn't been. Although life in general is often messy and challenging, marriage for us has been relatively easy. We could not be more thankful for the incredible gift of a happy marriage that we've been given.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Our Little Man

As most of our friends and family know, our little man Celtic passed away early Sunday morning. Although we are very thankful for the almost four weeks we had with him after his diagnosis early last month, we are still incredibly heartbroken. I thought it would be easier knowing ahead of time that we were going to lose him, but I guess no matter how much time we have with our pets, it never seems to be quite enough.

Maybe this loss was more difficult than I thought it would be because of all of Celtic's ups and downs during the last month. On the day that we canceled his surgery, we thought for sure he'd be gone within a couple of weeks. He was so weak and lethargic, and his tumor was still growing rapidly. A couple of days later we started him on a new anti-inflammatory called Piroxicam that was supposed to help with his joint pain. When Dr. Layton suggested it, she mentioned in passing that it also had some "cancer fighting properties." Since she didn't make a big deal of it we didn't think much of it either, but after just a couple of doses, it was obvious that Celtic's tumor had quit growing and was actually getting smaller. In less than two weeks, the tumor's decrease in size was almost as dramatic as the increase had been in the previous two weeks.

We were so thankful for the Piroxicam, since it clearly improved Celtic's mobility and his overall quality of life in his last month. He took a short walk almost every day, had a good appetite and generally seemed pretty much his happy little self. In fact, on the Friday before last, when I was upstairs taking some pictures of 3-Day equipment to send to my friend and 3-Day teammate Amber, the little stinker came right up the stairs behind me, which he was not supposed to do. The entire time I was trying to take pictures he was either trying to steal the socks and pillow or get inside the duffel bag. He was so cute and just as ornery as ever.

It's just so hard to believe that this was just 8 days before he died. I actually started to write an update about him after I took these pics, and now I'm really glad I never got around to finishing it. I probably would have blamed myself for jinxing things when he took a turn for the worse just a couple of days later. It was so strange, because on the Monday after I took these shots, I was at our regular vet with Fresco, and he was somewhat surprised to hear that Celtic was doing so well. Dr. Coles thought maybe we should give Dr. Layton a call to reconsider the surgery since the Piroxicam might have given us a window of opportunity. I called Dr. Layton's assistant later that day and left her a message about how well he was doing and how we wanted to talk to Dr. Layton and get her thoughts on rescheduling. It was almost like Celtic heard the conversation and decided to nix the idea, because within a couple hours his mood and health had totally changed. Out of nowhere, he was completely lethargic and could barely even get up. The next morning, he could only walk about 3 houses down the block and could barely make it back home--the previous day he had walked almost a half mile with no problems!

Although he was a little bit better the day after that, his health and mood were up and down all week. By Saturday he really seemed to have improved--so much so that Chad had actually decided to go to Salina to hunt turkeys on Sunday. Celtic had such a great day on Saturday. He walked farther than he had in several days (and wanted to keep going) and ate a hearty dinner. After dinner he was super spunky and followed Chad all over the house trying to get a bite of bagel. Then about 8 p.m. that night something changed--he became very weak and despondent. We initially thought he would feel better after a good night's sleep. It took us several hours to figure out that this was no ordinary lethargy, at which point we assumed his tumor had finally caused internal bleeding. We hoped he would just fall asleep and pass peacefully, but he barely rested all night long and was clearly very uncomfortable. We finally went to the emergency vet in Topeka at about 4:30 on Sunday morning, and the vet confirmed that there was nothing we could except put him to sleep. By this time, it was obvious that Celtic was in terrible pain. Dr. Carder, who was the vet who attended to Steeler when he died at Stone House back in 2006, thought that Celtic was suffering from the same condition that killed his brother--peritonitis. Dr. Carder guessed that his tumor had actually spread far beyond his armpit and had actually ruptured his gastrointestional tract somewhere. As difficult as it was to let him go, once we realized how much he was hurting, we wished we'd made the decision to go to Topeka hours earlier.

I know hindsight is always 20/20, but I could just kick myself that I didn't recognize Celtic's lethargy on Saturday night for what it was--pain. While he was groaning a little and breathing strangely, he wasn't panting at all, which is usually the tell-tale sign that a dog is hurting. While we knew he was uncomfortable, we thought maybe the internal bleeding was just causing him to be extremely weak and tired. It just didn't seem possible that he could go from being so spunky in the early evening to near death in such a short time, and it never occurred to us that his cancer could have spread so far so quickly. We were anticipating that when it spread, it would spread to the area of his heart/lungs first--not that it would attack farther down in his poor little body. It just breaks my heart that he had such a painful last few hours of his life and we weren't able to help him sooner.

Although Celtic's great day on Saturday fooled us somewhat, we're also very thankful that his last day on earth was a good one. We imagined that his decline would be more gradual and painful, but as it turned out, he got to enjoy life right down to the last day--just like his brother Steeler. We are comforted knowing that they are now running and playing together in heaven.

In Memory of Celtic Bird Luce
June 26, 1997-May 29, 2011