Space Opera With a Twist

Tag: dogs

Farewell, Little Friend

The last of our three terriers passed away this afternoon, at the age of thirteen years and five months precisely. Though he was a wee little dog, he had a big dog’s spirit, and a wonderful soul. We’ve known for a few weeks he likely wouldn’t see another summer, and when he suddenly took a turn for the worse yesterday afternoon, we knew he wouldn’t see Christmas either. Yet we hoped it was just a passing ailment. It wasn’t. Shortly after two this afternoon, I let him out not knowing it would be the last time. He basked in the sun for a few minutes, did his business, then came back into the house. I picked him up to hold him and felt him die in my arms, just like that.

As deaths go, his was a quick and painless one, and it was natural rather than a result of euthanasia like our older dogs. And both of us were there with him at the end. We will miss and mourn our little friend, our constant companion for the last thirteen years, but to paraphrase George S. Patton, we will be thankful that he lived. However, for the first time in over twenty years, we won’t be sharing our home with at least one dog and that will take a little getting used to.


7 May 2007 – 7 October 2020

He was a wonderful dog.

Time Flies

One of the things I’ve noticed, growing older, is that the passage of time seems to accelerate.  In March, we celebrated our twentieth year living in the same house – a record for two people who grew up shifting from place to place as the military moved their fathers to new duty stations, not to mention our moves while I was in the regular army.  And this morning, I was reminded by our kind veterinary clinic that our youngest, and sole surviving dog, turns ten today.  Funny.  I still vividly remember him as a tiny puppy, barely larger than my hand.  Where did all that time go?  Mind you, at five pounds, he’s still small, smaller than the cat we encountered during our morning walk, but he has the spirit of big dog even if his growls and barks are more endearing than menacing.  I get a lot of smiles from passersby as we walk through the neighbourhood ever day, and I know what they see – a big, bearded, fifty-something guy enjoying a stroll with his wee little dog.  Now that he’s healed from his knee operation, my guy can put on some speed when he wants to.

Victory’s Bright Dawn has been out for nine days now, and seems to be doing well with Siobhan Dunmoore fans.  It’s the sort of encouragement that’ll have me write her next adventure, although inspiration for a storyline hasn’t struck just yet.  But I’m steaming ahead with the fifth Decker’s War installment, and as you might have noticed, the cover and synopsis for Black Sword are up both here and on my author website.  I’m aiming to have the manuscript in my editor’s hands late June or early July, perhaps even earlier if I can overcome my habitual tendency to procrastinate, which might be a struggle now that the weather is finally showing signs of improvement.

Winter’s Critters

In honor of Groundhog Day, I tried to send my dog into the back yard and find me a groundhog, so I could determine whether or not it sees its shadow. But, it’s cold outside, with lots of snow and my five-pound terrier had orthopedic surgery on his right knee two weeks ago, so he told me to forget about it and assume that winter will last for another six and a half weeks, i.e. until March 20. He’s also not a fan of burrowing rodents larger than he is.  Definitely a smart little fellow.  Would that some humans show such common sense.

I finally took my cross-country skis off the rack and slapped them on earlier this week. Thanks to the freeze-thaw cycles that bedeviled our January, the trails weren’t in great shape, and I rediscovered muscles long thought to have been lost in the mists of time. But even though it was frigid, the sun was shining, the chickadees were chirping, and all was good. I could have instead been stuck in an endless meeting about trivial matters deep in the bowels of the demented bureaucracy. We’re supposed to get some more fresh snow in the next few days. I hope that will improve the trails because I’d like to go out again next week.

Victory’s Bright Dawn (Siobhan Dunmoore Book 4) is past the one-third mark, and progress has been fantastic, at least in my eyes, seeing as how I’m the master procrastinator.

A Writer and his Dog

Eighteen months ago, we had a small but lively pack of three Yorkshire terriers – or terrors as I liked to call them. Then, our thirteen and a half-year-old girl’s health went downhill dramatically over the space of two weeks until we realized that her time had come. Seven months later, her fifteen and a half-year-old brother from a different litter passed away in my arms, leaving us with the tiniest of the three, now a nine-year-old weighing not much over 5lbs.

He injured one of his hind legs in early summer, and when they took the x-rays to determine what to do, they found he also had bladder stones. Thus, in late August, he was going to get surgery to fix both his leg and remove the stones. Then, during pre-operative prep, an alert vet technician found a suspicious lump just below his rib cage. So, the surgery didn’t go ahead that day. Subsequent ultrasounds confirmed he had a growth on his spleen, but thankfully, the radiologist didn’t see any other growths that might indicate generalized cancer. The thought that it might be malign and that we might lose our last dog years before his time didn’t sit well, needless to say.

Earlier this week, he finally had the surgery to remove his spleen along with the growth on it (as well as the bladder stones – the leg surgery will likely not happen until the winter). The surgeon said he didn’t see any other abnormalities, but we’re getting the growth checked by a pathologist to determine whether it was malign or benign.

It’s been a heart-wrenching few days in the Thomson household, watching our poor little guy recover from abdominal surgery. Usually an alert, lively little fellow, with his tail and ears erect, eyes shiny and always ready to give a friendly lick, he’s seemed more like a zombie than our dog. Sometimes, when he looks at me, it is as if I can see reproach in his eyes for putting him through all of this. Other times, I wonder whether he’s about to launch himself at my throat. My wife and I are doing our best to keep him comfortable, but since he can’t tell us what he’s going through, we feel somewhat helpless. We humans do love our dogs, don’t we?

Concern for the little guy combined with a bout of writer’s block has killed productivity on Howling Stars this week, even though I’m less than 10,000 words shy of the end (on a 110,000 word book). It dawned on me during my daily gym session yesterday that one of the reasons for the block stemmed from writing a revelatory scene too early. It killed the story’s momentum, therefore yesterday afternoon, while holding my little guy, I removed it and cleared up the mental blockage. Hopefully, I’ll be able to plow ahead and finish the first draft over the next few days, while keeping a constant eye on my dog. He already seems a bit livelier this morning, but he’s got a few weeks of healing ahead of him, the poor guy.

Back to work on Decker’s War #4. Those vet bills aren’t going to pay themselves.

Old Dog, New Tricks

Our oldest dog, who turned fifteen in April, has apparently developed Canine Dysfunction Syndrome. It’s a not uncommon ailment of geriatric pooches. Call it the canine version of Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately for us, it manifests in sustained barking in the middle of the night, for apparently no reason other than to feel alive, get the humans he can’t hear anymore to show they’re still in the house and maybe go sniff the air in the backyard. There’s not all that much we can do about it – at some point one of us is going to have to take some valium, either the dog or Mrs Thomson and I. Considering that he’s still healthy, other than being deaf and suffering some lameness in a rear leg, we could be living with the demented dog for a long time yet. Scratching the yippy guy behind the ears last night, it occurred to me that some day, I’ll likely be just as annoying to whoever ends up being my caregiver when I’m a senile old coot, and that thought did give my patience a boost. We don’t know how long he’ll be with us – I’ve always said that he’s the kind who’ll go fast, unlike his sister who we saw decline over the better part of a year before she reached the end.

I can’t say that the sleepus interruptus hasn’t impacted my writing because it has. It’s a bit harder to rev up the old authorly engines when you’re yawning all the time. Nonetheless, I’m almost one-fifth into the first draft of the third Dunmoore adventure. As with my previous books, I went down the wrong track at first, though this time I realized it much earlier than before. I guess it’s something that I have to do – start telling a story until I can figure out it wasn’t quite the story I wanted to tell, so that I can find the right one. When I was writing The Path of Duty, I didn’t get to the point of realization until I had 110 pages written, half of which I ended up having to toss out, setting me back almost a month. I always know when I’m not happy with what I’m creating: after days or weeks of frenetic work, things grind to a halt and no amount of self-prodding gets me going again. At least I seem to be getting better at not investing too much effort before waking up to the fact that I need to re-orient myself. I was only at page 65 when it dawned on me earlier this week that what I was writing wasn’t quite right, and I can reuse pretty much all of it with the appropriate modifications to reorient the storyline. I suppose I should be glad that an old dog like me can still learn new tricks, even if it takes me a while.