Archive for dogs

The Beginning of a Beginning

Posted in Random Stuff, Stuff with tags , , , , , , on January 1, 2013 by brianestover

We use Dec 31 as a marker to end a time period. But it’s really just an arbitrary marker. Things most likely don’t get better or worse just because you’ve rolled into a new year. If you’re in some complicated project or completing a task, the changing of the year really is just another day. Most things don’t abruptly just end because one second ticked away. It’s easy to use the 1st of the year as the beginning of a training log or a starting point for something. It’s a great time reference. It gives you an anchor to set goals, it’s very black and white. That was then, this is now. Boom, start of a new year, start of a new something.

I always have some trouble with the new year and the start of things. As a coach I think in seasons starting with the down time that begins after the final race. Seasons could have 47 weeks in them or they could have 58 weeks in them. Where it ends for me is after the last race. I’ve been labeling schedules with 2013 for over a month now. The work now is for 2013 and beyond, not 2012. Sometimes I’ll have two or three seasons planned out due to an athlete’s goals, with the calendar year only as a reference.

2013 will be a little different for me, at least I think it will be, a little bit anyway. I filed what I think is the last of the estate paperwork, something I started on July 22, 2011 when my Mom passed away. That seems like an eon ago yet it also seems like it could be classified as just an age ago. It’s definitely been an era of the most continuous bit of stress I’ve ever dealt with. Sometimes a lot of stress, made more difficult by things out of my control or people getting in the way, sometimes the stress has been lessened by the overwhelming kindness shown by people I’ve never met. On the whole I’m a big skeptic of the human race, but several people over the last 17 months have restored a little sliver of faith. I can see an end to this process. Unless I’ve missed something, there are two or three things left to do, most of which consist of me signing my mother’s name, then writing the word by, then signing my name then writing the word executor.

There is a weird thing that bad stress does to you. I can look back on some very bad stressful times of my life – divorce, my dogs passing away, the death of one of my favorite people, going through a few rounds of layoffs. I look back at those periods of time and realize all that stress, all the shit that comes with it really did help prepare me for what I was going to have to do. Making the decision two times to put your dogs down is nothing to explaining to your mother, the person that gave you birth, that had been there for you for 39 years, and as a RN knew, had seen the consequences many times of the decision that you were about to make to pull her NG tube. The tube that was keeping her alive. You, her son, were about to condemn her to death sooner than she probably would have died. And she knew it and you knew she knew it. Then you have to explain that not only to her, but to your family why you are doing it. Since there was a communication gap due to neurological problems from the shunt, she was unable to 100% communicate if that was the right or wrong decision. I still grapple with that decision. What did Mom really think of my decision and thought process? Did she think I was wrong? That I should have waited? Did she think I just wanted the process to end? What did she think? While I didn’t realize it then, having to make the decision about the dogs helped frame the thought process. Sometimes in life though you will never know if the decision was the correct decision or if you made a decision that directly impacted someone’s life and they disagreed with you. It sucks.

As I look back on the process of wrapping it up a few things come to mind. Look losing a parent is never easy but the paperwork involved with death makes living so much better. Don’t die, it’s really the best advice I can give you. If you insist on disobeying my orders get all your paperwork signed, notarized and handed out to those who need it. Only then should you even consider kicking the bucket. Here’s another tip: live in the same time zone as the person who is going to be the executor or executrix. While flying back and forth the country numerous times has it’s perk’s, it’s not all glamour. All that flying did allowed me to get back in touch with some friends, which was great. I spent a lot of time in NC hanging out with friends that I rarely get to hang out with. It was also a time saver. Instead of continuing to spend a ton of time online looking at dogs at the shelters, then having to drive there, pick out the one you want, drive back a few days later to pick them up, I just inherited a dog. It’s pretty cool to have a dog that think’s your her best thing other than breakfast & dinner. I think the biggest thing it’s given me is the ability and confidence to know no matter what, it’s all going to work out. My Mom’s dying allowed me to shed the silver shackles that bound me with no fear of failure. The reality is I’ve made the two hardest decisions a lot of people have to make.

Now I have the beginnings of a new period of my life. Even though it’s January 1 and the beginning of a new year, my new beginning isn’t tied to the calendar. I can see it well above the horizon, close at hand, but it’s not quite here, yet.

Ode to Chloe

Posted in Random Stuff with tags , , on January 21, 2012 by brianestover

You run around in the yard all day
but on our walks “8 houses that’s all” you say
these walks we do would go by much quicker
as a side benefit it’d also improve your ticker
Your snout is short your airflow is restricted
it seems that boxers are not running gifted
daily I try to get you to run
but for you though it seems to be no fun
unless it’s after your rope that I throw
it seems my luck at getting you to run is a no go
maybe one day we’ll make it more then a quarter of a mile
I’d wager a guess that if we did I’d smile
maybe if you didn’t insist on carrying the leash in your mouth
running would be easier so you could breath though more then your snout
one of these days maybe it will work out I hope
although if I had to wager I’m betting on Nope.

Goodbye Holidays

Posted in Random Stuff with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2012 by brianestover

The holidays have come and gone. It’s back to the real world tomorrow. Life in the fishbowl is over.

My neighborhood goes ridiculous during the Christmas holiday. Lights everywhere. It took two cranes to get all the trees strung with lights. One guy does a mini Bellagio thing in his front yard with water shooting up 20 yards. Thousands of people stroll through the neighborhood. Every single night for 3 weeks. It’s nuts. Except for drive nights. These are the three nights they allow cars in the hood. My cul de sac turned into a parking lot. No one moved for 15 minutes. It ridiculous, comical, over the top, outlandish and people litter. A lot. My house was underwhelming compared to many. If I could find my camera I’d post pics. On a plus side, I was able to get to know many of my neighbors, never ran out of beer when walking my dog at night and it was interesting to see a thousand people walking around the hood.

I also managed to get in some working out. I ran just over 29.5 miles last week. That surpasses any months total from August through December. That’s right, I ran less then 25 miles each of those months. I rode less then 60 miles each of those months. Half of those rides were beer/mountain bike rides with the neighborhood guys. With one or two exceptions, there isn’t a lot of horsepower in the hood on a bike. But they can drink some beer.

All in all though, I lost a few pounds, feel a lot better if not a bit tired, read a few books, my dog and I walked together roughly 25 miles over the break and best of all, I didn’t do one bit of real work that entire time. My Fed Ex package for tomorrow’s conference call isn’t getting opened until 8am. Let the stress begin then.

Winter Camping Trip

Posted in Random Stuff with tags , , , , , on December 10, 2011 by brianestover

If you go camping in the winter you better be prepared. You’re going to need a fire to keep you warm. Bigger is always better when you are discussing fire. You’re going to need a sleeping bag. Not on of those two pieces of cotton sewn together stuffed with cotton. But a down or synthetic bag that keeps you warm down to 0F or so. You will need a pad to place between your bag and the ground to insulate you from the cold. You should also bring your favorite pets. Camping with your dog and cat is always better then camping alone. You can be assured that your dog will stay beside you all night. The cat, well it’s a cat after all.

Last week, I loaded up the sleeping bag, dog, cat and grabbed some padding to stick between me and the hard ground and made the long trek to our favorite camping spot. My living room. Yep, you read that correctly. I went camping in my living room. It makes complete sense. Your close to the fridge, no need to worry about food and a cooler, the fridge is 30 feet away. If you have to go to the bathroom, no bathroom is better then your own. Plus you think that fire lit itself on fire? You can do it on a week night, don’t need reservations anywhere and is environmentally friendlier then driving and camping all other things being equal. It really takes a complete badass to pull it off and pull it off I did.

First I chose a prime location next to the fire. Then I laid out my pad, which was a carpet remnant from when I had some carpet replace, tossed the bag on top and was ready to crawl in. I’m not going to lie, even with the carpet the ground was pretty hard. I grabbed a few blankets and put them under the sleeping bag to soften it up a bit.

Ready for Sleeping

The dog and cat settled in on their respective sleeping spots and off to sleep it was.


Chloe falling asleep


Stop with the photos, I'm playing Xbox

With the heat off in the house the fire place was our sole source of heat. This is the view we enjoyed from our prime camping spots.

The glow of the fire reflecting off the floor

New Dog!

Posted in Stuff with tags , , , , on November 6, 2011 by brianestover

Meet the new dog! A female boxer named Chloe. After putting down my two other dogs a few years ago, I knew eventually I’d end up with a dog. There were two prerequisites, female and named Chloe.

Meet Chloe

About the same time I was putting Bridgette down I was talking with my Mom. She wanted to get a second dog since her dog was getting old. She realized a guy down the street was abusing his new puppy. My Mom swooped in a rescued a slightly undersized female boxer. Mom also named her Chloe. She blatantly stole the name I was going to use and almost admitted to as much. I could go on about the Dodge Caravan, Honda Civic, and the house my sister and I bought in college but I won’t. They were my ideas first though damn it!

Fast forward a few years, Mom gets a brain tumor and I inherit a female dog named Chloe. Unbelievable how somethings work out.

A few weeks ago, I went back to NC to wrap up part of the estate and brought Chloe back.

It’s a bit weird having a dog. I forgot how much time two 25 to 45 minute walks each day take. She is on the model diet and prefers not to eat too often. Her food has been out for over an hour, the only nugget missing is due to the cat sneaking a bite. She freaks out about going out the back door sometimes. Sometimes you have to leash her to get her out the door. She also doesn’t get tired. In addition to the walks, we play frisbee or with the rope out in the yard for half an hour. Yeah, my boxer plays frisbee, it’s totally bad ass! I toss, she runs after it, then runs back and forth playing keep away from me.

I want to say thank you to my good friends at Drowning Creek Gun Dogs. My long time friend and his son train hunting and family dogs there. She has lived up to their unofficial motto, “No fat dogs”. Chloe also now has some useful skills, like being able to tree raccoons. Woe is the raccoon that goes through my trash. She has learned to chase prey effectively. The family of rabbits that hung out in the backyard have moved to the front. And some birds of a feather no longer flock together. Well their flock has been reduced by one anyway. She can also walk off leash although the HOA frowns upon that, will stop chasing rabbits on command and ignores birds when told to.

The only thing she won’t do is run/jog on the leash. Unfreaking believable. I was (almost) hoping that this would give me an excuse to run more then 15 miles per month. 5 houses is her running record. Sure she’ll run back and forth in the yard for 30-45 minutes but leash her up and go for a run? Not happening.

Where's the rabbit?

Family Portrait

Sam, the hiking machine?

Posted in Random Stuff with tags , , on September 6, 2010 by brianestover

This past Friday I got done with work early so Sarah and I loaded Sam up to take him to Mt. Lemmon for a hike.

Sam is 130 pounds of thundering mass. Goes from walking to full tilt in the snap of the fingers. When he runs, dirt flies everywhere, the ground vibrates as he thunders past, jowls flapping in the wind, exposing his rather large and shiny teeth from across the yard. Of course if you’ve never seen this then you 1. Don’t have a 130 pound Great Dane and 2. need a bigger yard if you do have a Great Dane. He also goes from full tilt to dead tired in about 4 minutes. I’ve seen him run, I have no idea why we took him on a hike.

Shortest hike of my life. Sam made it maybe 1km into the trail. Maybe. When you are 130 pounds of Great Dane though, that might be good. That was it, we stopped to get the water bottle out for him and he layed down. Done. Finished. Dog tired.

His Tongue Meter (highly scientific tool to evaluate if a dog is tired) was hanging out. I’ve never seen a tongue that big before on a dog. Or a human. Imagine French kissing that.

Maybe a nice swim in one of the many pools still left near the top of Mt. Lemmon would cool him off. All dogs love water, at least the last few I’ve owned did. Nope. Turns out he is afraid of water. Stuck his paw in and said “hell no, it’s cold”.

Still turned out to be an awesome afternoon. You can’t beat a short hike then a nap with your feet dangling in a pool of cold water.

So Long Bridgette

Posted in Stuff with tags , on February 11, 2010 by brianestover

You’ll be missed very much.

I had a last few weeks with her knowing this was the end result. I’m not yet sure if that makes it less or more painful. It’s weird coming home to a dog free house. First time in a bakers dozen that I’ve been faced with this.

She was different then my other dog, more aloof, liked to hide in the closet, make me step over and around her while trying to get the shirt and tie on in the mornings. Bridgette was the sweetest dog I’ve ever owned. I could walk her off leash with no worries. A quick whistle and she came right back to me. She was always in such a hurry to get out of the door for her walk and get back into the house when done. If in the future when I get another dog or two, if they are half as sweet as her, I’ll be one lucky bastard.

From good to bad

Posted in Random Stuff, Stuff with tags , , on February 11, 2010 by brianestover

Yesterday’s run was great. It was cold and raining. There was snow hanging low on the mountains. It was the longest run I’ve done since the day after Christmas. 7.2 miles. The sun popped out about halfway through for 3 minutes, giving me two huge rainbows to guide me back home. There was no one else on the path, just the sounds of my feet landing on the wet spongy ground. It felt like I was running, like I’ve turned the corner towards being a runner again. It felt good!

Last night Bridgette got worse. I’ve made the decision to put her down this afternoon. I’m hoping the vet can squeeze me in. When your dog can suddenly no longer stand up by herself when she has been laying down, it’s time. She has been struggling some with getting up, but has always managed to. But not now. I’ve made her breakfast for the last time. Only one more walk to go. A short jaunt down the alley to the park this afternoon to let her sniff around, then her final car ride. Even with a few weeks to prepare for this, one would think I’d be prepared for the finality of it. I’m really not.


Posted in Random Stuff, Stuff with tags , , , on February 8, 2010 by brianestover

Over the last few weeks I’ve been struggling. Struggling with trying to get back into shape, struggling with having to now put down Bridgette which has caused me to rethink lots of other things. I’m struggling to find a house I like enough to buy, struggling to get stuff around here done as efficiently as I used to. It’s kind of like I’m in some sort of haze which is making me go at 90% while everything else is full speed ahead. Lately I find myself questioning everything, things I used to take for granted.

Having to put Bridgette down this coming Saturday has really thrown me for a loop. If the appointment wasn’t already scheduled, after tonight’s walk, I’d put her down sooner. I could actually see her ability to walk decline as the walk progressed tonight. She became a little slower, started scraping her back paw against the ground more and she started limping. It was sad, I cut the walk short, I couldn’t deal with it. On the other hand, the prednisone has made her act 2-3 years younger. She is playing more around the house at least in spurts, squeaking her toys more then normal, flipping them around and chasing after them when she launches one across the room. It brings a smile to my face to watch her. It’s going to be weird not owning a dog after Saturday, or at least not having one around. Over the last 12 and a half years, I figure I’ve walked my dogs over 5,000 miles. That is a lot of time to spend with your dog. That seems to be the one thing I’m not questioning is having my dogs. I never really though about the day I’d have to stick them down. I don’t think many people get a dog with that end point in mind. Hey lets get a puppy, get really attached to it, spend all this time with it, have it amuse me for a 10+ years then put it down. I bet if they thought about how much sticking your dog down sucks, there would be less pet owners. I’m going to enjoy the last few days with her, gently playing tug of war with her, snuggling with her before we go to bed and petting her often. While I’m doing that, hopefully an answer or two will come to me as well.

A Punch to the Guts

Posted in Random Stuff, Stuff with tags , , , , , on January 26, 2010 by brianestover

This morning I’m walking around dazed and stunned. Bridgette went to the vet yesterday. Her tail stopped wagging like normal and her appetitive decreased. It seems every time I go to the vets the news isn’t good. Bridgette has cancer among other things like arthritis, anemia and some bad teeth.
There are lots of little tumors in her lungs, a nice size tumor at the base of her spine and one of her anal glands has a tumor. She has to be put her down soon. The tumor at her anal gland is already impacting her ability to go to the bathroom. Her poop comes out one side flat the other side round. Much more growth and she’ll be completely stopped up.
I’m stunned. I guess I shouldn’t be. She is ~14 years old and in great health otherwise. We still walk just about everyday, she plays with other dogs at the park and seems to be her usual self. As a pet owner, who has seen her everyday for the last 12+ years, sometimes you don’t notice the little things that might tip you off sooner. I never noticed she was getting indentions above her eyes until the vet pointed them out. She gets her head rubbed everyday. How did I miss that?
For now she is on antibiotics and prednisone. The prednisone should help perk her up a bit more and increase her appetitive. Since she still has a relatively good quality of life, I’m going to be selfish and keep her around for a few more weeks. Through all the years, I’ve always said I’m not going to be that dog owner that hangs on too long, that I’d rather put her down with a few good weeks left, then have her suffer for a few weeks because I didn’t want to let go. To me, being kind and letting your dog go out on top is the best thing a dog owner can do. I’ve already chosen a tentative date, and I’m not looking forward to it showing up. Hopefully she’ll respond well to her drugs and maybe I’ll get to keep her for a another week or so. I hope so anyway.