Toby’s last photo

On The Tenth Toby-versary, I took photos of Toby when he was sitting on the back of our couch, just like I had on the 8th and 9th Toby-versaries.

However, I didn’t post that photo with the post about the Toby-versary, partly because I couldn’t find the card reader. But, I think part of me wanted to keep it private, because I suspected the 10th Toby-versary would be the last one.

I was right. Toby died 11 days later in his sleep.

We’d taken him to the regular vet the day before because he just wasn’t quite right. The vet said his heart was worsening, and that we should take him to see the cardiologist for a check-up within the next week or so.

We just happened to be able to get an appointment the next day, December 9.

At 10 a.m., Ed called me at work to report that the cardiologist said his heart was, indeed, worsening, but that there was still stuff to do. She prescribed Vetmedin, and told us he’d likely feel much better very soon. I was thankful we’d likely get at least a little more time with him. But, we remembered that Toby was still quite old.

When Ed got home, Toby barked as he always did. He hopped out of the car, walked up the steps from the garage, got some water. All typical Toby behaviors. Ed went up to take a shower before work.

At 11:33 a.m., he called me again. “Toby’s dead!” he wailed.

When he came down the stairs to grab his work shirt, he found Toby stretched out at the bottom of the steps. He often slept there, but Ed very quickly realized he wasn’t asleep. He’d been upstairs showering for ten minutes, tops.

We were stunned, but glad he died peacefully.

Within an hour of his dying, both our regular vet and the cardiologist had called. They were stunned, too. The cardiologist’s best guess is that Toby experienced an abrupt rupture of the chorda tendinea. The chorda tendinea are, according to Wikipedia, “cord-like tendons that connect the papillary muscles to the tricuspid valve and the mitral valve in the heart.”

But, I like referring to them by their English translation: heart strings.

Here’s that last photo I took on our Toby-versary.

The last photo I took of Toby before he died

As a friend on Facebook said, it’s classic Toby. He certainly had our heart strings.:)

The Tenth Toby-versary

This time ten years ago, I was meeting Toby for the first time.

When I got him, I never DREAMED I’d have him for ten years. Heck, when I posted about my eighth Toby-versary, I doubted I’d be here.

Whether we’ll see an 11th Toby-versary is anyone’s guess. If I had to place a bet today, I’d say, “no.” (Ask me on a day when he acts like a puppy, and you’ll get a different answer.) His heart disease continues to progress. He’s slowing down physically. He walks like a very old man a lot of the time. He’s very, very sleepy, probably from his heart disease as well as simply from old age. Long story short, I know he’s winding down.

We’re trying to keep him having fun and moving as much as he is able. This is one reason why we enrolled him in nose work. LOOK! Twelve-year-old dog doing nose work!

I also learned a bit about tracking last weekend and Toby did a few “baby tracks.”

We don’t have illusions that Toby will be end up a champion nose worker or tracker. In fact, we may not do much more of either. (He has just three more classes.) But he’s having fun, which makes me happy.

So, we’ll see. He’s 12 now (on Nov. 19), which is on the high end of a Cavalier’s life expectancy. The vet says we’ve done a great job with him. I think we’ve done a great job with him. I just wish he could live forever.

Southern Tornadoes Hit a Little Too Close to Home

First, I am fine. Ed is fine. My parents are fine.

Large portions of the very small town in which my parents live, however, are not. About 8:45 p.m., I learned that a tornado a mile wide was headed straight for their town. The town has a population of about 1,000. Mile-wide tornado + small town = the possibility of really bad news. I was terrified waiting for them to call after it was over.

It is scary to see video shot by a local newspaper that shows disarray in the downtown that contains this gazebo where Ed and I had our photo taken after our wedding five years ago tomorrow…

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And to see shots of cars coming across this bridge we walked across after the wedding…

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And to see huge trees uprooted in the park where we took photos on our walk after the wedding.

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The park is also where we went for a walk with Francis and my sister when they visited two years ago just after Christmas.

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As I said, my parents are fine. Their house is fine. But a house less than a mile from them (as the crow flies) was completely destroyed. That house wasn’t the only one destroyed. But it was the house my dad was at when I called to check in on them again this morning. (Another severe thunderstorm hit after we talked last night.) Dad was helping the owners gather up what could be salvaged. There wasn’t much.

This all hit WAY too close to home. It could have been my parents’ home. Or my parents. So many people were killed from these storms.

By the way, the video I mentioned? It was taken yesterday MORNING after a bad storm including lots of straight-line winds came through. So, the worst was still 12 hours in the future.

I am so thankful my parents are o.k. I am praying for the families of those who are not.

Snow vs. No Snow

To recap, Atlanta had about six inches of snow last Sunday night, followed by freezing rain on Monday. Atlanta isn’t good with snow and ice (not much snow/ice removal equipment), but usually this isn’t a big deal because it warms right up. However, this last week the snow and freezing rain were followed by days of below-freezing temperatures. The snow and ice didn’t go anywhere. Most Atlanta-area school systems were closed all week. My office was closed three full days — as were many offices. Thursday and Friday the office didn’t open until 11. It was a mess. (I could go on for paragraphs.)

Temperatures were above freezing all weekend. However, you wouldn’t know it by looking at our yard this morning.

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Not much different from last Monday, huh?

This is our driveway this morning.

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I’ll still need my boots to navigate it tomorrow morning.

By contrast, this is my across-the-street neighbor’s driveway.

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Dry.

Yes, we have a “battle” of snow vs. no snow in our neighborhood.

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Isn’t that wild?

It was an interesting week, one that we’re not likely to experience again for a LONG time (think decades, please, God!). But, Ed and I are going to buy a snow shovel, just in case.

A walk in the ice and snow (a preview of driving in it)

We got a big old snowstorm (by our standards) in Atlanta last night. We had 4.5 inches in the first hour and a half or so after it started snowing. We ended up with up to 6 inches in our yard (depending on where I measured). Then, we had some freezing rain. That turned the snow slick, and the streets didn’t benefit at all, as you might imagine.

One of the folks I follow on Twitter had to drive through downtown Atlanta this morning. She lives near Chicago. She said “this storm would put Chicago under.” She was gracious enough not to say that in Chicago they have the equipment to clear the interstate (and every other road) so it wouldn’t be an ice skating rink.:)

What’s making this so bad is that the sun won’t come out until Wednesday. (The screenwriter of “Annie” must have lived in California.) It won’t get above freezing except for an hour or two tomorrow. It won’t get above freezing much all week. The lows several nights will be in the teens.

Our office was closed today, and I learned late this afternoon that our office will be closed tomorrow. Knowing that eventually I’ll have to drive to work in the ice and snow, this morning Ed and I took a walk along the route I’ll take to get out of our subdivision.

Our street

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I have to stop at the stop sign below. Good luck with that, I know.

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The turn at that stop sign

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The street after I’ve turned right at the stop sign

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The street ends at the stop sign. It’s on a hill.

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In order to make it up the hill and onto the “main”ish street, this car (after a failed first attempt after which it went in reverse back down the hill) got a head of steam, didn’t stop at the stop sign (which was dicey as a car was coming), and turned left at the stop sign.

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He fishtailed a bit shortly after he turned.

And this is the “main”ish road that I travel on for about a mile before I reach the U.S. highway I use until about five miles from work.

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Yes, I’m standing in the middle of the road.

Ed doubts this road will be plowed tomorrow, though I expect that the U.S. highway will be plowed. Not sure about the road I drive on the last 5 miles.

So, yes, the next few days are going to be interesting. I’m grateful that the office is closed again tomorrow, so I don’t have to worry about it for awhile.

In the meantime, we’ll stay inside as much as we can. (The dogs vote “no” on being outside. What’s the weather like where you are?

My nephew Francis turned 6 today

Francis, 1 day old (January 9, 2005)

He was born at just under 32 weeks gestation.

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Francis, 11 weeks old (March 2005), and me

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Francis, about 20 months old (September 2006), and me

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Francis, November/December 2008 (from a post about his 4th birthday)

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Francis, December 2009, and Toby (the next time I saw Francis after September 2006)

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Francis, Fall 2010 (1st grade — he skipped kindergarten: smart boy!)

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Today is his 6th birthday.

How did he get so big? My sister says he looks like he’s about 13 in this photo, and I have to agree.

And, I should be an aunt again this summer. Francis and his new brother or sister will be 6 1/2 years apart.

Happy birthday, Francis. I love you.