Rating photos and building remembering albums

By virtue of it being one of the most ‘normal’ weekends in a very long time, I finally cycled back to a task that I’ve been meaning to start since June: building remembering of albums for Misty and for Willow. Normally, I do this sooner after a death but with them being back to back and so much going on, I hadn’t had a chance to start the process.

I’ve started rolling through all of my YYYY/Dogs albums in Digikam and assigning a rating to each based on the following concept:

  • 5 Stars: Best photos (essential)
  • 4 Stars: Good photos (above average / memorable)
  • 3 Stars: Okay photos (average)
  • 2 Stars: Wish it came out better photos (meh)
  • 1 Stars: Low value photos (useless)

My hope being to find the best photos for their albums, and add a few to Corky’s along the way. I’m also thinking that when I finally get to setting up photo frames, I’ll probably use the 4 stars and up to seed the memory cards. Made it as far as 2014, but I know that the rate of my dog photos largely tended to increase year over year as camera sensors got better. So that’s only a small chunk of them. I’m very glad camera sensors improved a lot before they got old.

Aside from feeling like opening the box of tissues I bought after the last family death, I find myself both very glad that they were in my life for so many years and so sad that they’ve all gone on ahead of me. Dunno when I’ll be able to welcome a new furry member to the tribe, but I hope that they will become a good part of life too. Willow, Coco, Misty, and Corky: I’ll never forget you goonies.

Misty had to follow our tribe

Yesterday, Misty went on to join the rest of our tribe. As feared, her kidneys didn’t register enough change to give any hope of improvement and she began to get weaker and weaker. She still had the wherewithal to cry and start fidgeting to get up to relieve herself, but needed to be held to avoid darting off and failing with what was left of her motor control. She was far weaker than the previous night and mostly tried to sleep.

With the kidneys shutting down, her waking experience was becoming one of extreme dizziness. I would describe her last night, like being chained to the teacup ride at Disney and not being allowed to get off. That’s really no way to live even if you might have a couple more days before things become painful instead of uncomfortable.

By the time the blood work was done, she was fairly close to a coma and the vet rated her quality of life at about 3/10. I think choosing to say goodbye while she was still conscious and not in too much pain was the best plan we could offer her.

Hopefully Corky, Willow, and Coco can lead Misty to where all the good treats are on the other side of the bridge. If there was ever anyone in our family who loved food more than me, it was you little sweat pea.

Tomorrow’s bloodwork should more or less determine what Misty’s remaining life span looks like. In the mean time my efforts have focused on trying to make her comfortable.

As for me. Well, I’m at that point where I have the wherewithal to vacuum while she’s at the vet. Then wonder why it didn’t pick up much and realize it was set to “Tools” instead of “Floors” mode the whole time 😅.

Without Misty, Corky, or Willow around the level of quiet has been to where the cycling of the air conditioning and the creeks of the building trigger my alert responses. That instinct to go hunter-seeker in search of trouble, or how the hairs on my neck stand on edge shouting snap, duck, and roll. Things like that. After 12~13 years of Pumpkin’s air pump going, I rather learned to filter out ambient noises not directed at me fairly well. After 18 years of having a dog or four around, well, I’ve become trained to be sensitive to the presence of others. Misty tends to prefer the couch potato life like I do, but stirs as necessary and sometimes snores a bit. Corky took similarly but tended to be the watchdog coming along to investigate. Willow tended to get into antics and fidget around whenever she wasn’t out cold. Years back when Coco was alive she tended to take a mixture of keeping watch and vegetating in comfort, except she snored like a buzzsaw.

Whether my post Misty life ends up being days or months away, I think I’m going to have to develop the habit of getting out more when I’m not at work. That or my weekends are going to start looking like a Delia Deetz meme. In the meantime the most I can really do is hope and pray about the kidney readings tomorrow, and try to make her comfortable while I still can.


We spent last night in the animal equalvant of an emergency room. As best as the vet there can figure out from her blood work it’s from her kidneys. She also warned that a lot of times in senior dogs that seizures can be caused by a brain tumor. But Misty’s bloodwork is certainly alarming enough in terms of renal failure, anemia, and blood sugar. When we left for the ER, all she could really do was move her tongue and eyes. By the time we got the paperwork sorted, she could use her front legs enough to sprawl and by the time we go home, it seemed like she could use her front legs well enough to prop herself up but that was it.

She spent the night trying to lay down and even few minutes sitting up and trying to drag herself across the bed. By this morning she was at least able to stand and wobble about unsteadily, but needed help to drink a little bit of water. Still too nauseous to accept food.

While working on my major sleep deficits and the whole trying to function as a human being thing, Misty spent most of her day at our regular vet. They’re pushing fluids and antibiotics and hoping her renal function improves. Somewhat hamstrung in that the fluids they would use aren’t so safe with a heart murmur as advanced as hers, so they need to be slower and more cautious about it.

Tomorrow is likely to be a similar plan, assuming that the sweet pea is still alive. For now, she’s settled in for rest. When we got home it seemed like she felt like she must have fought from Normandy to Berlin in one long hard march. But after napping for a bit she decided to express her opinions on my blanket wrapping versus her buried under blankets approach, so I’m guessing that is a good sign.

I’m hoping that her kidneys respond and her motor function continues to improve, so that she can at least have some weeks or months of quality of life that doesn’t suck. As opposed to just a few days before it downhills. In my mother’s case, the road for kidney failure took her about 4 or 5 months from things getting bad (unable to walk) to getting fatal. I imagine that Misty will be lucky to make it that far. Here’s hoping for the best….

Goodbye, Willow

About 12:45, Willow passed away with the vet’s assistance. Her internals were shutting down enough that I don’t anything the vet could do would have done much more than drag out the suffering a few hours, or at worst a few days.

Willow on my shoulder

She had stopped eating and drinking enough that she spent a few days on an IV, and seemed to perk up. Her blood work neither improved nor worsened, so I decided to at least try making it through the weekend. But in a few days started refusing dog food and spent her last couple nights on a diet of boiled chicken and rice. Last night, I think we got about 45 minutes of sleep as she would keep barking and refusing any food or water. This morning she refused her pill wrap with the arthritis meds, something she had previously accepted despite the eating issue. Willow basically spent the morning shifting between barking a few times and going back to sleep. By the time I decided to accelerate the trip to the vet instead of waiting for our appointment, I think her kidney’s were already starting to give out.

Before taking her to the vet, I decided to sit in the grass with her one last time. I think she still had enough awareness left to enjoy that sensation, but was so close to the edge that I was surprised she was still breathing when we made it to the vet. If I didn’t worry what pain she might wake up in, we might have just sat there until she passed.

Willow was by my side from when she was about 6 months old until her end, about 18 years later. I love you little monkey, and I hope when my own time comes that you’ll be waiting for me at the bridge. She was the best girl.

Cooking for the first time in a good while, between waiting on the land lord to finally call a plumber and Willow’s tethering health; I opted for a two factor dinner plan.

For me, chicken tenderloins baked with a light dusting of garam masala, some green bean casserole that I’ve been meaning to make forever, and rice with soy sauce and onions. Not the best meal I’ve ever made, but it felt good to be able to cook again.

For the dogs, I boiled a portion of the chicken and set aside a few spoons of the rice. At first, I was worried that this might be a little bit bland compared to their diet of late. Needn’t have worried, save perhaps that they would dislike having to share 🤣.

While Willow didn’t care much for having to wait on me to clean and re-order the kitchen interspersed with cooking tasks. She pretty much woofed it down. Misty basically cleared the dish by the time I turned around. So, I guess I can call that an effective plan.

The way things work around here

Me: *walks off and comes back *

Misty: *Sniff, sniff *

Me: “You want some coffee?”

Misty: bastard, I thought you were making a sandwich.

Me: * walks off and comes back *

Misty: *Sniffs * I knew it, I smell a sandwich!

Corky passed away today

He had been refusing food, drinking little, been lethargic, breathing hard, for the past few days. We came back from the vet with meds targeting pneumonia when he didn’t improve, dropped him off. The vet decided to put him on an IV trying to hydrate him and get a stronger antibiotic into him.

When his heart stopped and trying to resuscitate him, they didn’t get a response. They certainly tried, he was in good care. In a lot of ways, Corky’s passing reminds me a lot of how my mother passed away but with complications from fluid in the lungs rather than kidney failure.

Last week was the 7th anniversary of Ma’s death which makes the comparison even closer. Much as Willow’s been by my side, Corky was by Ma’s side and had adopted me after her passing. I reckon he was about 14 +/- a year which is not young for a dog, but still the youngest of our tribe.

Miss you and love you Cork’a’bee. I hope that Momma and Coco were there waiting to guide you across the rainbow bridge. Thanks for being part of my family.

While my dogs are mostly unphased by the local fireworks, pardoning when some folks get a little crazy, I’m often reminded of this comic on The Oatmeal:

For the most part, it still seems appropriate.

One great mystery solved: why corky likes to nap and lounge in the middle of the floor by the bathroom.
Theory: this seems to be the perfect spot where you can feel the most effect from the air vent across the room.
Smart dog.