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Bowser’s Boo Bash

I may not have updated my own blog recently, but I did manage to write a guest post about last weekend’s big event for our executive director’s blog.

Here you go…

Romeo’s Legacy

Today I spent some time putting our house back into pre-amputee/pre-hospice dog state. Our mattress is no longer on the floor. The dog beds are consolidated again. Dog drool has been cleaned from some of the blankets (there’s only so much laundry that will fit into one day).

I suspect I will keep finding signs of Romeo all over for quite some time. There are the hair/slime drool marks on several walls from shaking his head while his mouth was gooey. There are the corners of walls with dents in the paint from his massive tail.

But the most noticeable is probably his legacy at the bottom of the stairs. Last summer (when he still had four legs), there was an “incident” with the stairs. As recounted to my Facebook friends:

June 30, 2010

While attempting to follow me up the stairs this morning, I heard Romeo’s typical CLUMP-CLUMP as he ungracefully galloped up the stairs. After just a few CLUMPs though, there was a loud THUD-THUD. Concluding that he had managed to fall down the few steps he had climbed, I peeked down to see how things were. The first thing I noticed was the hole in the wall. Yes, our great dane managed to punch a hole in the wall by falling down the stairs. He is beyond special. By the way, he is fine and even immediately after the incident he looked at me as if to say “What’s up? I’m good, how’re you?”

Something to remember him by*

I suspect his face looked something like this at the time – plus or minus the drool.

*The hole is still there. Trent and I aren’t so great with home improvement projects.

1776 days

October 21, 2006 we picked up an awkward 10 month old Great Dane from his loving foster home. Today, 1776 days later, we said goodbye to this big dog who has been a huge part of our lives.

Seven months after his diagnosis with osteosarcoma, it was finally too much for Romeo’s body. His lung tumors were making it too hard for him to function on a daily basis.

After another night of Romeo in discomfort and no sign of another upswing in energy, this morning we decided that today was the day. I took the afternoon off from work and we all hung out in the backyard for hours.

We moved almost every single dog bed outside making a huge pillow island on the patio. At several points I had all three dogs curled up with me. We enjoyed the afternoon’s sunny, perfect mid 70s weather while in the shade of our huge maple tree with mild breezes wafting outdoorsy smells to Romeo’s nose.

Several cats hung out at the back sliding glass door, asking to be part of the event. After laughing at her antics to get our attention, we finally put a harness on She-Ra and let her out on leash. Romeo seemed confused about why a cat was outside, but soon went back to napping.

When it was time, some of the dog beds migrated to my car for Romeo’s ride. Trent used Romeo’s harness one more time to lift up, help steady and at times carry Romeo to the car.

As usual, Romeo enjoyed his car ride, napping on the 40 minute drive. He almost inhaled the entire package of hot dogs he got to eat when we arrived. He was polite to my coworkers who helped him on his way. Romeo went peacefully, with Trent, me and Julio by his side.

The house is incredibly quiet at the moment, even though the other two dogs, all the cats and Trent and I are all home.

Thanks to everyone who sent happy thoughts and good wishes to our Romeo. He will be deeply missed.

One last car ride

Then and now

Romeo came to live with us in October of 2006 as a gangly 10 month old. Now, almost 5 years later, some things haven’t changed.

June 22, 2006 - 6 months old

Still being cuddled by kitties…

August 30, 2011



July 8, 2006 - 7 months old

Still enjoying the beach…

April 8, 2011


May 4, 2007 - 1.5 years old

Still friends with Julio…

July 20, 2011

Dinner and a cuddle

Another day of hanging in there for Romeo. It’s getting harder to manage the trip out the back door even with his harness and practically being carried by Trent. And the trip back inside took its toll and ended with about 10 minutes of panting to catch his breath.

But Romeo enjoyed a steak for his after-dinner snack tonight. And yesterday’s breakfast of ground beef was practically inhaled. So food-wise, he’s still a happy camper.

In other news, She-Ra was caught cuddling Romeo today. Our newest cat – we just adopted her about a year ago – she has been Romeo’s occasional companion.

After Romeo’s amputation, she was the one who sat on him and tried grooming his bandage and curled up with him while he recuperated. Today, Trent found her snuggled with Romeo for a while.

Battle for the bed

A few weeks ago we finally set up our air conditioner (Thanks again, Kerry!). It has been relatively warm (for Oregon) this summer, but we just hadn’t bothered setting it up until Romeo began having a harder time. We didn’t want him to be uncomfortable because of the heat if he didn’t have to be. The hand-me-down window AC only fits in one window – in our dining room. It’s actually pretty convenient since it’s in the middle of the house and can help keep everything cool.

Just having the AC set up wasn’t enough though. To make Romeo even more comfortable (not to mention Trent who would prefer sleeping in an ice cave) we moved our bed again and are now sleeping in the dining room. It’s not like we actually even eat in there – why would we when we have a perfectly good kitchen to stand up in?

So we moved the mattress (no box spring since that was now too tall for Romeo) and added a row of dog beds so there would be plenty of room for everyone. Here’s a diagram: (Oh, everyone has a couch in their dining room, right? Especially a couch for the dogs so they can look out the big window.)

We were having pretty good luck keeping Romeo on the dog beds at night. Usually once he was settled, he wouldn’t move too much. Last night, however, at bedtime Romeo was on our bed, but there was plenty of room for everyone so we let him stay. (I am sure there were cats and a Julio in the bed too, I just couldn’t remember exactly where they were.)

Everything seemed like it was going to be fine. But when we woke up…

…somehow Romeo had taken over the bed. My stick figures don’t do it justice. Trent was actually contorted around Romeo and barely on the bed. I am the one partway on the dog beds. What the diagram doesn’t show is that the dog beds are a bit lower than the mattress and I had tried to even out the levels with extra pillows.

All in all, it was not a very restful or comfortable night. Although Romeo didn’t complain.

Operation Octopus

Since we’re working on Romeo’s bucket list, we figured it was time to try a fun sprinkler. It’s summertime, it’s hot out and Romeo loves the hose. So I stopped by the store yesterday and Rite Aid had this wonderful contraption on clearance.

Here is the big guy contemplating it…

We started with the octopus in the middle of the yard away from Romeo’s bed to see what it would do. When we turned the hose on, Dante and Julio moved far away but Romeo sat up on his bed and tried to grab at the few sprays of water that made it over to him.

After a minute or so, we moved the octopus next to him and let the sprinkling begin.

If Romeo had had more energy, the octopus would very soon have been an amputee too. Over the years, we have had to replace several garden hoses, so I’m sure a few tentacles wouldn’t have given him too much trouble.

McNugget Night

Romeo is on a food journey and enjoying it quite thoroughly. He has already had hot dogs, canned dog food and Carl’s Jr. McDonald’s was next on the list, so Trent and I picked up a 50 piece order of McNuggets this evening.

Trent is a vegetarian and I am grossed out by McDonald’s McNuggets so neither of us was tempted to eat any on the way home. Of course when we got home I did count them, and we actually got 51 pieces of fried meat product.

Dante scored the 51st McNugget since we couldn’t completely leave him out. He enjoyed getting his evening meds in it. I felt a little bad only giving him one, but a dog who is on a diet doesn’t need more than one McNugget.

I went to get my camera set up for Trent so we could document how this experiment went. I was especially curious to see how long it would take Romeo to eat all of them.

By the time I made it back to the kitchen our cat Nugget had stolen one McNugget and was eating it on the kitchen floor. Julio proceeded to steal the remaining bits from Nugget.

This left Romeo with a plate of 49 McNuggets to try. Here is how things went.

So even though kibble is no longer interesting, in 3 minutes and 3 seconds, Romeo could polish off a plate of 47 McNuggets (51 minus the 1 for Dante-the-Good, 1 Nugget stole and 2 Julio helped himself to). Not bad for not even getting up.

(At 3:14, Trent and I lose it when Romeo burps, I assume to make room for the last few.)

Down with Kibble!

Romeo has no need for lowly dog kibble any longer. He knows that all he has to do is turn his head away from an offered bowl and it will be removed and replaced with something extra yummy.

Today we have discovered that plus equals a very happy Romeo. For lunch today he ate an entire can of canned food mixed with some kibble. Dinner was more canned food and kibble plus three hot dogs, served whole. Amazing how a lethargic dog turns into a focused beggar when hot dogs appear.

Tomorrow’s menu will include ground beef and more hot dogs. Oh, and the peanut butter may make an appearance as well.

In other news, Dante-the-Good got an outing of his own today. Since cancer-dog apparently can’t have all of our attention, Dante started having seizures a month ago. Lots of very big seizures. After starting on meds, he hasn’t had anymore issues which is great.

Today was Dante’s recheck appointment so we got to spend a little time in Corvallis which is always nice. We hung out at Riverfront Park for about half an hour enjoying the beautiful day.

Dante got a thumbs up from the vet and we’re set to check back in another month to see how he’s doing. All right, seizure-dog is ok for now, back to cancer-dog…

I’m not sure exactly what he did, but starting yesterday evening, Romeo has had a bit more trouble with one of his back legs. I suspect in his flailing around to get upright or during his ungraceful, stumbling hop-walk, he tweaked something and is a bit sore. He can still get up and around but is a bit more reluctant.

His right leg (which is on the left in the pic below) is just a tiny bit swollen but doesn’t seem tender to the touch. As long as he can still make it outside for a few potty visits a day, we’re good.

Here is Romeo with his personal assistant who cares for all his grooming needs. Julio demonstrates his eye cleaning skills.

Yes, it’s 90 degrees here. Romeo likes to lay in the path of the air conditioner so he can be cool enough to still be covered with a blanket.

Bring on the fast food

Romeo had a very slow day today. Moving around took an extraordinary amount of effort again and he even had to take a break when going to the back door for outside time. He also only had a few nibbles of food all day, which is not like him at all.

So we decided to try to entice him with something yummy for dinner. Since we’re not really concerned with his diet at this point, the options were wide open. We decided on Carl’s Jr for dinner for ourselves and figured Romeo would like their menu offerings.

Trent, the vegetarian, willingly sacrificed the meat from his burger. (By the way, at Carl’s Jr you can put the fried zucchini on the burgers instead of the meat. According to Trent, it’s yum-yum-yummy*) We also ordered chicken strips for Romeo.

When we got home, we again offered Romeo his kibble and he practically wouldn’t look at it. But as soon as the fast food cartons appeared, we had his attention. He was ready to inhale the entire burger patty, but I tore it up and threw it bit by bit into his bowl. After the burger and two chicken strips were gone, the bowl of kibble had been eaten too.

Then Julio took off with the empty food carton to shred it.

So tomorrow’s mission will be to stock up on yummy goodies. I’m thinking about chicken and ground beef to start with. Canned dog food would be handy too for the times we don’t have time to cook for the dog. (At this point we rarely even cook for ourselves.)

We’ll see how Romeo feels tomorrow to find out if I’ll be stopping for fast food on the way home.

*This is my interpretation of Trent’s reaction and not meant to imply that he would use such language.