• Zoey Update: Bitter Truths

    As most know, Zoey has been with cancer for nearly two years. She has been through poking, prodding, CAT scans, radiation, and most recently, surgery. After all this, she still greets the vets with a lick and a wagging tail, cautiously, but still happy. We're the same way. Our Oncologist makes us laugh, so that's a plus.

    This appointment on December 2nd was one we've been dreading for a month. During that time we have seen large regrowth of cancer. The once flat surface from eye and tumor removal surgery, now looks like she has another eye, except this time it is covered up with hair and skin. She also had brief diarrhea and colitis, which cleared up with help from our general vet, but prompted us to make an appointment with Oncology to make sure there wasn't more going on. 

    What's up: Our Oncologist says the regrowth is not something he's particularly pleased with, and that it is painful for Zoey. She still choses to be a happy dog over everything else that is going on, and that tells him that her pain is still able to managed. He predicts our dealbreakers will be 1) If she starts to be unsocial 2) If she shows no interest in food. This appoinment also led us into talked about euthanasia, and if we had looked into at all - we hadn't - so he walked us through what happens. Simply put, the time we have left could be weeks to a month. There is no way of telling right now.

    Zoey's cancer progression of last month has forced me to start thinking about her inevitable death, and how I will cope. Only one animal has died in my life - my gerbil, Derby, in the 4th grade - and it was emotionally crushing. This will be that to the nth power. 

    There was an article in the NY Times some months back in which a writer used his column as a way to process his dogs death. The tone of the article was sad, but it had a playfulness - the kind that makes you laugh as your just about to burst into tears...maybe I'll do something like that.

    Although there are fluctuating percentages of sadness, Zoey is still very much alive, and happy to be with us, and we are very happy to still have her. 

    - B

  • The Last Goodbye

    Sweet Zoey,

    You have been amazing to me the past 3 1/2 years. I got you as a pup, when I was in need of friendship. You became my companion, my best friend, and my little girl. You have been through a broken bone, poking, prodding, radiation, medication, and surgery. But in the end we lost, and now it's time to say goodbye. 

    To everyone that has helped us over the years financially, thank you so much. Without you, we wouldn't have been able to give Zoey the past two years of her life, and that life was well spent. Zoey has gone to Canada, numerous camping trips on the north shore, adventures on road trips, and has made so many faces smile in the world.

    I love you so much Zoey, and I hope someday to see you on whatever other side there is for us in death. 

    The following are photos from the time we got Zoey as a pup, until our final walks.

    Goodbye, sweet girl. You are gone, but never forgotten.

    - B

  • Road Trip: Lake Superior

    I love spontanious trips.  Some of the best adventures I have ever had have been set in motion by the words, "hey, want to go on a road trip?" One time it was a week in advance, and another time it was a casual mention of a road trip a year in advance.

    The case with this trip came from how much stress we were carrying from Zoey's cancer, and the nature fix that had been absent in our lives for some time. At this point Zoey had been 2-3 weeks past surgery and her sutures were looking pretty great. Anna had time off work already, and with some help from the amazing folks over at Parka to cover some of my work, we were able to make this trip happen.

    We drove most of the way around Lake Superior. From the North shore of Minnnesota, to the actual north shore of Superior in Ontario, and then down into Michigan. Unfortunately we didn't have time to travel closer to the shore through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, or Northern Wisconsin. Next time!

    All photos taken with: Canon 5D MKII + Canon EF 40mm f/2.8

    Day 1

    Day 2

    Day 3: (zoey was eyeing flys in the fire pit)

    Day 4

    Day 5:

    - B

  • Zoey Update and Surgery

    Zoey, the evening before surgery 

    First let me start by saying thank you to everyone who took time to support us this past month - financially, and emotionally. We raised enough money to pay for Zoeys surgery, and this is helping us get through to the next step, which I will address further into the blog. Until then, thank you all so much. We raised $580 at Parka in three weeks from folks who donated generously as they came to eat and drink coffee, as well as those who attended the Ping Pong Tournament put on by Forage Modern Workshop.

    *The photo at the bottom of the blog shows Zoeys current condition and may be disturbing to some. Stop at July 17th if you are one of those people*

    Zoey and Cancer

    Early-Late 2013, Zoey was diagnosed with a granular cell tumor. Which we treated with a full round of radiation throughout the summer. This was all made possible through the support of family, friends, and the world wide web. Checkup appointments down the road leaned toward the tumor being at a stand still - neither growing nor deteriorating anymore than where it was at.

    May 2014, dental started to become an issue. When we had our post-radiation checkup, we voiced our concerns, and doctors recommended dental work to remove ulcers on her gums that have formed, as well as removing a few teeth. We went ahead with the dental work, but during tooth extractions, the doctor operating noticed what looked like a white mass. The doctor took a small biopsy, and reported her findings to us. Knowing Zoeys history, they wanted to test to make sure it wasn't something new. A few weeks later when the results came back, the report was positive - cancer was back. This resulted in stains to classify the cancer, but we got no results. 

    June 2014, we met with Oncology at the U of M. We talked about Zoeys current condition, our options, and the fact that none of the stains were coming back with any results. Though more stains could have been done, it wasn't worth waiting weeks for results with how fast the tumor has been growing. Surgery was then recommended from here, and the way it was talked about was that Zoey will probably have many years left. 

    July 16th 2014, we met with the Surgery department at the U of M. We talked about Zoeys current condition, and what the procedure would involve. Maxillectomy + Enucleation (removal of eye and bone/tissue). Through this surgery we could get a large enough piece of the tumor that Oncology would then be able to test and get some results. Through classifying this tumor, the hope is to find out whether or not chemotherapy would be a good option. The fear about this tumor is that it is growing so quickly that chemo will not be able to combat the tumor - whatever classification it may be. This is all news to us by the way. Upon hearing all this news, the surgeon continues to point out, "are we only delaying the inevitabe?" And we are thinking, "what? Isn't this surgery supposed to give her a life? and not 'x' amount of months?"  Everything moved really fast. I thought we would have a week or so to prepare before surgery, but we scheduled it for the following day

    Honestly, I couldn't tell you what the actual prognosis is, because both Anna and myself have been thinking all this time that surgery was going to save Zoeys life, and not just give us some glory months. My hope is that there is mixed information. Not just because I am an optimist, but because she is my dog, my companion, and my best friend since she was 4 months old.

    July 17th 2014, Zoey was dropped off at the U of M in the early morning. We received a call at 3:15pm saying that the procedure was a success and that she is doing well, 98% of the tumor was removed, but they are still concerned about the 2% left and how that could react. At 7:45pm, we received another phone call saying she is doing well, and that they had sent a photo to my email:

    Now all we can do is wait for Zoey to heal, and wait for results to come back. I will be trying to keep everyone up to date through my blog here, as I think that will be the best form of communication with everyone.

    Again, thank you all so much. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

    <3 Bryant, Anna, & Zoey

  • Before you hit play: I want to mention a few contributing factors to this post. Lately I have been inspired by narratives and spoken word. The photo project, This Wild Idea, and the podcast, This American Life, have both played a large part in this. With that in mind, this post is something new that I am really excited to try.

    So hit play, and enjoy the photos that go with the audio.

  • Little Man Is Done With Kindergarden

    My little brother just graduated from Kindergarden. I attended his graduation the other night with the rest of the family. Everyones schedule is kind of all over the place, so it's rare we can all get together like this. I try to make it out to the parents place, but it doesn't happen as often as I would like it to. It was great to see everyone, and amazing how much my brother has grown in the past year.

    They got dressed up in capn' gown, got certificates, did the walk, etc. I don't remember ever doing stuff like this at the end of of Kindergarden. At the end they blasted some kid friendly dance music and ran out of the place jumping and flailing. Cute, and funny.

    Family <3

    Gramps treated us to frozen yogurt after the ceremony.

    Young wise one.


    The boy was pretty tired after everything. This has to be the most adorable picture I've seen of the guy.

    - B

  • Happy (belated) Birthday, Zoey!

    Zoey turned 1 on April 5th. We were off by 6 days, but I'm terrible at remembering these things.  Then again, it doesn't help that I've been reading her "registered date" as her "birthdate" for the past 10 months. None the less, since it was her special day (6 days late), we did all the things she loves. Toys, treats, walking, off leash dog park and etc.

    She had to put up with the birthday hats and camera in her face, but that's a small price to pay for what this pup got.

    Zoey loves stuffed animals, so we stopped by the thrift store and picked her up a few.  They don't last long. The minute she gets a new animal, she makes it her mission to destuff the plush toy, and usually succeeds within 10-20 minutes. On top of new toys, we baked her some homemade peanut butter dog treats, some pupcakes, and also picked up some rawhides from the petstore that look like sushi.

    Pupcake!  Complete with apples, applesauce, nummy spices, a cream cheese frosting and a graham cracker top. In case anyone is wondering, "should a dog really be eating that?" We looked up recipes that were safe before we started baking.

    Presents! Rawhides, plush toys, treats.  Nothing better.

    Like most, one pust play the minute a new toy is recieved.

    After we celebrated at home, we took a trip out to the off leash dog park with Anna's dog, Bryr. Zoey and Bryr have become quite a long way in the past 10 months.  Zoey, being a small dog and somewhat possessive, used to have issues with other dogs.  Bryr, being the good sport he is (he's also a much older dog), took it in strides with a good attitude and helped her get through that phase. A great role model.

    Overall, a successful late birthday. On to the next year of Zoey's life! 

    - B

  • Giving thanks

    Anna and I went to visit her some of her family in Indianapolis, as well as celebrate the holiday with some awesome people.  

    Feast on pixels these pixels:

    Set up

    Anna and I made stuffing for the feast.  Apples, pecans, cranberries, white wine, veggie broth, sage, parsley, chives, onion, salt, p;epper, diced rye bread, let sit for some hours, and put in the oven for 45min.

    1st up:  French Onion Soup.  

    Pie, Salad, Pumpkin Roll, Sweet Potatoes.

    Finishing up the first course.

    Branching out and trying Duck for the first time.  It was delicious.

    - B