dawn_felagund: (silmarils)
I have planning to do for tomorrow, which is the last day of school before Spring Break and I'd usually give the kids a break, but the clinical director is bringing one of the self-contained students to observe my class because they're going to be transitioning him into it. Yaaay. [Not.] So why not procrastinate just a leeeeetle bit more by doing the fandom m-type thing grabbed from Oshun?

Ask as many as you want!

The Prompts )
dawn_felagund: (happy cloud)
Today, Bobby qualified again for the finals of the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge. He took bronze in his age category, which is pretty daggone impressive because 1) this is his last year in this age category, which means he is competing against guys ten years younger than he is, who are in their mid-20s, and 2) as luck would have it, he came down with a cold yesterday and so was far from 100% when he did his run today. The conditions were also awful: in the upper 40s F and a slow, cold rain. (I know because I stood outside in it for about ten minutes, waiting for him to come down! I was wearing my Roxy hightops, and the warmth from my feet through the soles of my shoes caused me to freeze to the ground.) He only missed silver by a half-second and finished three seconds better than the gold in the next age group up from him.

The finals this year is at Jay Peak, in northern Vermont, the very last stop on the Vermonter Amtrak line. He turns 35 the day before the competition, so depending on the rules, he might get to compete in the next age group up, which would improve his chances considerably of taking a medal in the finals. He placed fifth last year.

I'm very proud of him! He hasn't been doing this very long and has honed his skills primarily on our small southern mountains. At the finals, he competes against guys who have been doing this their whole lives and on mountains "steeper and deeper" than his beloved but nonetheless tiny Liberty.

Posing with his medal and his stick with Liberty in the background.

 photo 2016-02-21 14.58.18_zpssaquunc3.jpg



And a scary-close-up of us together! I need longer arms and refuse to buy a selfie stick!

 photo 2016-02-21 14.58.44_zpszk51mxgm.jpg
dawn_felagund: Lamppost in the winter snow. (winter lamppost)
Baltimore officially broke the record for the most snowfall out of a single storm, so this was officially The Most Epic Snowstorm EverTM Or At Least Since Records of Such Have Been Kept Because I'm Pretty Sure More Epic Snowstorms Happened Before But Just Weren't Written Down. Here in Manchester, the National Weather Service tells us that we received 32 in/81 cm of white powdery goodness. However, I can speak from experience that snowfall numbers from this storm are going to be unreliable because of the wind. When I checked NWS snowfall totals yesterday, Lineboro--a town five minutes away that shares our zip code--supposedly had 4 in/10 cm more than we did, which is unlikely. The wind was just blowing it around, so an accurate measure was difficult to impossible.

Let's just settle for saying we got a lot of snow.

Read more... )
dawn_felagund: (newgrange)
First of all, before I post the beautiful pictures garnered from that 10K of snowshoeing, to all who have been asking about Lancie: He is home! He was released last night from the vet hospital but spent the day with my inlaws so that he could be monitored all day today. He is about a foot away from me now. He is doing much better: the vomiting and diarrhea are gone, and he has his appetite back. We need to get his weight back up, which means extra canned dog food, which I don't think he's going to protest.

Okay, now as to the reason I am writing this post! Come take a 10K walk with me in the snow ... )

And that may be sooner rather than later. It seems we brought it back with us. Maybe the Ullr Fest worked! We are due to get as much as three feet (a meter or so) of snow over the weekend and are presently under a blizzard warning for Friday night into Sunday morning. Schools are already closed for tomorrow.
dawn_felagund: (silmarils)
Tomorrow it is back to work and school, so I will be back on hiatus, writing my thesis, until May. But, over winter break, I had the opportunity to write not one but TWO new Tolkienfic stories, both for the LotRGenfic/MPTT Yule Exchange. So before I sink back beneath the waves of despair work and grad school, I want to link them here, for anyone who might be interested.

As always, comments public and private are very much appreciated.

Víressë (for Keiliss). As Sauron's reach lengthens, Winter lingers overlong in Gondor. In the midst of cold, despair, and the slow march to war, Boromir kindles a forbidden love affair with an unknown errand-rider that creates intrigue and betrayal. Contains slash (Boromir/Hirgon) and a scene involving the corporal punishment of a child. Neither is graphic. LiveJournal | MPTT | AO3

Song of the Stone (for Zdenka). Newly arrived at Khazad-dûm in the Second Age, the Elven loremaster Pengolodh presents a portion of his new book to Narvi only to discover that his understanding of the “great profit” that existed between the Dwarves of Belegost and the people of Caranthir in the First Age is not quite what he assumed. LiveJournal | MPTT | SWG | AO3

See y'all in May!
dawn_felagund: (maedhros and fingon)
I know in this last year, I wasn't exactly a barrel of laughs. Between my depressing work stories, losing Alex, and the Constant Angst over My MA ProgramTM--combined with a dearth of posts on things people actually like, like picspams of my dogs and fannish things--I would blame no one for just scrolling on past when I rarely appear on their friends page.

But the thing is, many of you don't.

I cannot say how much I appreciate the love and support I continue to receive, even when I have not been able to reciprocate for far too long, or even reply to comments. I have a list of stories to read as long as my arm. I haven't even replied to all of the wonderful gifts that were made for me as part of Felak's Treasures some years ago.

I just handed in the final assignment for this final class (I hope!) before starting my thesis. There is light at the end of the tunnel! I hope to be a more interesting, less depressing person and, most importantly, a better friend again soon.

Friends, thank you for sticking by me through that long tunnel, even when I haven't upheld my end of the bargain. You make me laugh, commiserate with me when I need it the most, and make me feel less alone in the world.

My very best wishes to all of you for a happy holiday season. *hugs*
dawn_felagund: (morgoth)
Important ETA: Over the past few days, I have been in correspondence with other Tolkien archive admins and the abuse team on AO3. It seems that my initial fears that this incident was "bigger than us" were well-founded. This person has been found on several Tolkien archives (although they don't seem to have posted as widely anyplace but the SWG) and may be linked with a chronic plagiarist on AO3 and ff.net. That makes vigilance more important than ever for all of us. Readers, if you see a story on an archive that looks familiar but isn't by the author you recall writing it, please say something to an admin. It is worth pointing out that we were able to catch and quash this person on the SWG as quickly as we did because we had several members who saw something that didn't look right and reported it. Finally, many, many thanks to everyone who has spread the word. I know it's been a lot of you. (This post was in the LJ Top 25 for a while!) /ETA

As some of you already know, we recently had a major incident of plagiarized work being posted to the Silmarillion Writers' Guild. Given what my comoderators and I discovered during our investigation, I have reason to believe that this is not an isolated incident on our site alone, nor is this person confining their activities to the Tolkien fandom. I have contacted the authors whose work was stolen, and my comods and I have also reached out to the admins of other Tolkien archives (MPTT, Faerie, SoA, OSA, and NaN*) and the abuse team on AO3 to share our findings.

*I couldn't find a contact address for LOTRfanfiction.com, if there is even an active admin on that site anymore. If anyone has one, I'll forward my findings there as well. ETA that Keith has been brought into the loop ...

I am sharing this information publicly here with the intention that it be shared with other admins and authors. Please feel free to link, share, and repost any of the information here. You don't have to ask. I don't care if you credit me (although doing so is probably practical so that anyone with questions about our findings can contact me directly). The important thing in my mind is making sure that this person is shut down before they can do more harm and empowering both admins and authors to do so. If your actions are done with that goal in mind, trust I am going to be cool with it.

A brief summary of what is going on:
  • Multiple accounts were used on the SWG to post plagiarized stories. These stories were stolen from multiple authors.

  • The person or persons behind this was/were responsive to feedback from our moderation team concerning what was allowable on our archive and actually exchanged emails with me on a couple of occasions. They were clearly not part of the Silmarillion fandom (I'm fairly certain they don't even know what The Silmarillion is) and may not be familiar with fandom and fanfic at all. But they were good enough at impersonation that it took us two weeks to catch on to them.

  • They appear to be stealing stories mostly from AO3 and Fanfiction.net. However, there is evidence that they are stealing from other sites as well, and we know for a fact that they have started their shenanigans on OSA. (We've contacted the OSA admin.)

  • They appear to be stealing primarily stories that are recently posted or updated. Again, however, this is not 100% the case.

  • They were insistent of their innocence, even after we found overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I don't know the motivation behind that; it doesn't appear that they were invested particularly in the works they had posted but seem to have selected them somewhat at random.



A version of this post has also been posted to the Stop Plagiarism community on LJ and is in the queue to be reviewed by a moderator.

ETA ... it is now also posted on Tumblr.

What Happened )

Screencaps and Links )

Summary of Usernames, Emails, and IPs )
dawn_felagund: (alex loves)
Bobby and I typically refer to Golden puppies as loaves of bread because they are roughly the size of a decently proportioned homemade loaf and similar in color. Since Guinevere is 11 weeks old--Alex and Lance were both 9 weeks when we brought them home--then she's quite a bit bigger than a loaf. We were adrift for a few days, not knowing what to call her. We'd sort of gesture her proportions with our hands like we'd do for the loaf of bread but bigger. But we didn't have a word to go with it. Eventually, I started calling her the miche, after the extra-large loaves one can buy at Panera Bread.

Well, we picked up the miche after work today. More! Including pictures, of course!! Of the miche. )
dawn_felagund: (alex awww)
I am briefly coming off of hiatus to share some big news.

About a year and a half ago, Bobby and I went with friends to a local ciderworks. On the way back, we passed a house in Hampstead (next town south) that had a pen of Golden Retriever puppies playing in the front yard. Well, by the time we'd driven past three times, the owners noticed us and waved to us, like, "Stop being creepy and just stop and ask to see our puppies!"

We were not looking for a third dog--three big dogs adds all kinds of logistical challenges--but we liked the breeders and took a card and promised to give them a call if ever we were looking to add another Golden.

Three dogs was too many, but we do like to keep two. We like that they are able to be companions to each other when we aren't home, which is an unfortunate but necessary effect of being married professionals. We had talked about when we'd like to get a new dog and decided on the spring. And we'd call the breeders in Hampstead first when we did. Their website made clear that they breed one litter each spring, so the timing should be perfect.

This was solid enough in our minds that Bobby called them the other day to see if we could make a deposit to reserve a puppy from their next spring litter. A, lo and behold, due to work schedules, they weren't able to have a litter last spring, so they had one in the fall instead.

They had one puppy left, a little girl, light golden (like Alex, not Phil, who is red). We went to see her yesterday. I don't think it's possible for us to see a Golden Retriever puppy and resist it. We knew the outcome. I even joked to the owners when they asked if we had any ideas for names that I'd suggested "Maybe" and had then taken it right back because we knew the answer wasn't going to be maybe.

So Guinevere Estel will be coming home with us next Monday. This weekend, we are in Ocean City for a teaching convention (really! I swear! even though all the classes are in the morning so yes we will have to figure out something to do with the afternoons and evenings ...). She was born on August 1, so she is a little over ten weeks old. We didn't know her birthday at first, and the day Bobby found out she was ready was the eight-week mark of losing Alex, so that meant she could have been born on the day we lost him. I'm ... kind of glad she wasn't. As poetic as it sounds in theory, it actually hurts quite a bit in reality. As you will see from the pictures (of course there will be pictures!), she is a pudgy puppy like Phil, not tiny and emaciated like poor Alexander was. She is playful and friendly (also not like Alex! the carpet alligator!! I often say he was the cutest puppy I've ever seen but also the most awful in terms of behavior. He had no socialization prior to coming to us, it seems.)

It's funny: We've had three Goldens now, all obtained under unplanned circumstances. All were from litters of nine and were the last to be adopted.

We debated at length over the name. Bobby initially suggested Guinevere (Gwen for everyday use), but I shot it down right away, since she is a character in literature that I've never felt much connection to. We went through literature and mythology. It's a lot harder to name a girl using that method than a boy. We were between Cassiopea (Cassie for everyday--my preference) and Estel (Bobby's preference), which oddly were suggested by the opposite person who preferred them. Finally, driving home today, we revisited Guinevere and decided that there was a lot to like about the name, mostly that we liked the name Gwen and could imagine calling a dog in from the backyard using that name. (One of the main reasons that Lancelot became Phil over time! And one of the main reasons that I didn't prefer Estel.) So Gwen it is.

Phil went with us and met Gwen and ... wasn't thrilled. Phil likes exactly one other dog: Alex. But he has learned to adjust to about a dozen dogs of friends, family, and neighbors who end up sharing his house and yard periodically. He even learned to live with a cat for a while. (He really wasn't happy about that.) So he'll adjust and maybe, I hope, even learn to like her over time? At least a little?

This is much sooner than expected but we've gone with the circumstances with both Alex and Phil and ended up with beloved pets both time, so we think we're doing right now too. And we really can't resist a Golden puppy ... :)

Meet Gwen ... )
dawn_felagund: (unicorn)
Those who read the SWG newsletter or follow me on Tumblr know that I have officially started my hiatus for my thesis. I won't be on social media and will even *gasp!* be closing out my email while I'm working so that I can avoid the bad habit of popping in every five minutes to see if there is anything new.

I am definitely reachable on email, so if you want to tell me something, please do email me. :)

My most excellent comods will be taking over my responsibilities for the next few months on my various fandom projects. Russa put together the SWG newsletter this month. It was the first time in ten years that I didn't do it! I feel like a new parent leaving a child with a babysitter for the first time with all my little finicky instructions and comments. (I hope I wasn't too annoying!) Even though I know they will do a wonderful job, it's just strange that something that has been a daily part of my life will for over a decade now will get on without me for a few months! I'll still be getting auto-forwards but trying not to answer them! Let's see how I do!

So ... I'll see everyone in March then! <3
dawn_felagund: (alex awww)
When I first purchased my video camera, I practiced using it by taking lots of little videos of the Goldens just being the Goldens. Now that Alex is gone, I am so glad that I did.

I pulled these videos off my school laptop the other day to save them on Dropbox. This one is probably my favorite. In 2013, the Ravens went to (and won) the Super Bowl. We took the Goldens to a party for the AFC Championships over my inlaws' house. I took this video the next morning, when I couldn't even get them off the couches to go outside.



Alex always had a very expressive face and a way of looking and acting that sometimes made you feel like he understood a lot of what you were saying. The dirty looks he gives me in this video as I immortalize his laziness are priceless.

Phil is in it too, curled in a tiny ball on the couch. Unlike Alex, Phil couldn't care less that I was filming him.
dawn_felagund: (pawprints)
As I noted in my last post, we decided to bring Alex home and bury him in the yard. Bobby and I started digging the grave on Thursday. It was slow going because our soil is a mixture of clay and rock. Bobby picked, and I shoveled. We got about two feet down before the thunderstorm creeping up out of the west started throwing visible lightning, and we decided to call it a day.

Friday, we picked him up at the ER clinic. Read more... )
dawn_felagund: (alex awww)
We had to put Alex down last night.

I know. We were just celebrating his biopsy results coming back negative for any cancerous cells. And the second opinion confirmed that.

Yesterday morning, when we woke up, Alex was a little under the weather. But he has never been a morning person, and he had played hard with Bobby the night before, so we chalked it up to him being a little worn out. But when we came home from work, he was very obviously lethargic, and when we checked his gums, they were gray, suggesting that he was bleeding again inside. (He had gotten his color back to the extent that even his grandparents commented on how pink his tongue was when he was panting at Mackey's last week!) His breathing was also a little labored, and he was using his abdominal muscles to draw breath.

We took him to the Pet ER, and the vet, suspecting that one of the lesions on his liver was hemorrhaging like his spleen had hemorrhaged, recommended an ultrasound. She found no free fluid in his belly, but on a hunch, took a look at his heart, and his pericardium was full of fluid. She explained that she was 95% certain that he had a hemangiosarcoma on his pericardium that had ruptured and was filling his pericardium with blood. The biopsy likely came back negative because the tissue in his spleen had deteriorated so badly that even the cancerous cells weren't able to live in it anymore. Basically, his whole body was riddled with cancer.

There is nothing--NOTHING--that can be done for hemangiosarcoma on the heart. There is no medical or surgical solution to prolong his life. Since he was hemorrhaging into his pericardium, his time was very limited, and as she explained, could quickly deteriorate to where he died badly during the night. (I asked if we could take him home for one last night and have Dr. Baker do his euthanasia the next day, but she said that there was a significant risk that he would deteriorate rapidly in just a few hours.) And we did see him deteriorate even in the two hours we were at the vet with him.

My parents were in Atlantic City, but my inlaws, Amiah, and Erin came to the ER, and he was so happy to see them. He lifted his head and wagged his tail each time, and he even stood up for his Aunt Erin. You could almost see in his face the surprised delight that everyone came unexpected to see him! So he was peaceful and happy when the time came. (Which is why I didn't want to euthanize him at the ER if we could avoid it, because he understandably hates it there, and I didn't want him to be distressed when he died.) We surrounded him for about a half-hour and petted him and laughed over our memories of him and how he used to walk Grandmom around the apartment complex when we lived in Ellicott City and try to eat napkins that he found on the ground and pull pieces off the Christmas tree, and all the other stuff he used to do that made him Alex.

This is really hard. I have loved and lost pets before, but I have never loved a pet like I loved Alex, and I don't know if I will again. He was not a typical Golden. He was very intelligent and willful, and he did things on his terms. I always felt like he and I were cut from the same cloth, like we were truly Wallses in our manners and personalities. There was always friction between us because he would intentionally do things to irritate me for attention (I definitely irritated him too, since I would tickle his ears and feet), or I would want him to do something one way, and he had to do it on his terms, but I understood and connected to him like I never have before with a pet. Three weeks ago, when he went in for his spleen, I began to prepare for this possibility, but now that it's come, I still find myself surprised by the spaces in my life where he should have been, where I never thought to miss him and now find him gone.

We are so grateful for the time we had with him. A lot of pets with hemangiosarcoma die so suddenly that their people come home to find them dead. Or the situation could have been reversed, and the tumor on his heart might have ruptured first, and we would not have had the last three wonderful weeks with him, in which he seemed like a dog half his age, if only for a short while.

I am, as many know, getting ready to write my thesis in October. As those who work with me on fandom projects know, I am in the process of preparing those projects for my four months off. I feel like this is the moment when I am beginning to step back. I am probably not going to be around as much till my thesis is done. This does not mean that I am unavailable, and anyone who wants/needs to talk to me knows where to find me, and I am happy to hear from people, just not sure I'm quite up to being my usual hyper-energized self right now, at least socially. I hope you all know how much you mean to me and that my silence is not from lack of care or interest but because I'm coming up on an intense part of my life, and I feel very frail right now.

Alex is still at the ER. We have decided to bury him at home, so we are waiting to hear from Miss Utility so that we can choose a site and begin to dig, and the clinic will hold his body until then. He will be well provided with grave goods, and we are going to have a wake to celebrate his life. Anyone who lives in the area will be invited. I will post here when I have a date.
dawn_felagund: (out of the light star)
... but Alex's biopsy came back benign.

The pathology lab is seeking a second opinion, but they tested four 2-cm sections of his spleen and found nary an abnormal cell. They were supposed to call Monday, and we were wondering why we hadn't heard from them but unwilling to call while on vacation.

I got an email and a call from Bobby as soon as I arrived at work, while my students were drifting in to homeroom, and had to close myself in my closet because I was crying. I didn't dare hope for this.
dawn_felagund: (black-eyed susan)
As seen at Oshun and Rhapsody ...

A clean house is a sign of a wasted life ... )
dawn_felagund: (silmarils)
I want to thank everyone who sent me a birthday card for the SWG's 10th birthday. I was very generously treated and am grateful for each and every one. Quite a few had heartfelt messages that made me wubble hard and that I will cherish for a long, long time.

As a result of putting this together*, I am hella behind on pretty much everything else fannish, so if you are waiting on me for an email reply, a beta, archive stuff ... I'm huffing and puffing but slowly catching up! In addition to Alex (who is doing extremely well, though we are still waiting on biopsy results), things have been pretty heavy at work recently. I feel like my time has been crunched down to fit into a jack-in-the-box and springs out at random to bop me in the nose; I am back to waking up in a panic periodically, convinced that I've left something undone. (I have! Many things!) This weekend is pretty empty except for a hafla on Sunday, so I should have everything set to rights very soon.

*And, yes, a few people have asked: I did do my own birthday card album! :D That was my modly job, to upload the cards to Photobucket as they came in. Trust me, it did not diminish the joy I felt to receive such lovely cards and messages, and I pretended yesterday like I hadn't seen them all already and went through and looked at them again. My comods even set up an email for me, so I even got an email with a password like everyone else. ;) And Russa did use her mod access to sneak one past the form, so I did get a bit of a surprise!

It's hard to express how much the SWG and the people in this community mean to me. Starting this group was life-changing, and I don't mean that I spend a lot more time than I would have otherwise using Notepad to write code or debating the finer points of copyright law with my obliging comods. I mean that, before fandom and before the SWG, I did not take my writing or my love of language seriously. I forced myself onto any path but the one I secretly longed for, where books and writing and words were the chief delight.

I mean that I would not be a teacher, would not be working with at-risk kids, would not be a grad student in humanities, would not be starting to publish my scholarly work (would not have scholarly work) without the people in this community. I have been so generously treated over the years by people who have pushed me to see myself differently. To recognize my value in this world, which I was honestly struggling to do when, bored at an unrewarding job that I took only because I didn't know what I truly wanted to do with myself, I began to write Another Man's Cage and not long after set up the SWG. I sometimes worry that I can never repay the kindness and generosity with which I have been treated. The SWG is an attempt to do so, to create a version of the way I was myself treated, in hopes that others might continue to find their voices through the humble mode of fanfic. I am sometimes terrified when I imagine what life would have been like if I'd never discovered fandom, never started writing AMC, never founded the SWG because, for all my grumbling and complaining--some of it petty, some of it very legit--I am so happy in my life and am doing what I love and want to do for as long as I can do it, fighting the good fight to change the fact that "everyone speaks but few are heard."

So I am grateful to you all for what you've done for me over the years. And I am saying that to those of you who sent me a card and those of you who didn't but have been a part of the fandom, the SWG, and my life for these last ten years.

Thank you.
dawn_felagund: (alex eek)
What it says on the tin!

We picked up Alex this afternoon at 5:30. He came out with the tech, straining at the leash, his four paws skidding on the floor in his eagerness to go with us. He looks 100 times better than even yesterday. He spent the whole ride home with his head stuck between the seats, watching the road in front of us, which is his favorite way to ride in the car, with prolonged sessions of resting his head on Bobby's or my shoulder, thus making him the world's coolest pirate!parrot.

In the car, right after leaving the hospital.

 photo home-from-er1_zpsk7aa33dn.jpg



At home, Phil was over the moon to see him. Poor Phil has been a little lost soul without his brother. He ran out into the yard yesterday to bark at someone in the street and then stopped halfway, like, "Where's my brother?? I can't do this without Alex!" (Alex does most of the barking.) He has mostly been laying on the patio, chewing on rocks, like he's not sure how to play without Alex, but he has not spent more than a few hours away from Alex since he we brought him home at nine weeks, so he really isn't sure how to play without Alex. Phil dislikes every other dog he's ever met except Alex, who is in a privileged Alex-only category.

It didn't take long after returning home, though, before Alex was sound asleep. This is him during dinnertime clean-up. He didn't even notice when I plopped a big spoonful of poached egg whites from the cookpot into his bowl. (Normally, that is his favorite, and he hangs around underfoot whenever eggs are being made.)

 photo home-from-er2_zpsp0usukzc.jpg


The little orange football and Phil are in the background. :)

So he is on limited activity for the next two weeks. (He already tried to take off after a squirrel once before being abruptly stopped by the leash.) That means leashed yard access only, and we will be watching Amazon videos on the computer upstairs rather than in the basement so that he avoids the steps.

Thank you to everyone for your kind words and thoughts over the past few [very rough] days. We are still very much in the woods, but we are happy to have Alex home again. I told Alex that he has a cheering section that stretches across the world. I think he knows. :)
dawn_felagund: (alex loves)
After last night's very bleak post, I have some good news.

(You see, I cannot resist for long. For all my grousing and cynicism, in my heart of hearts, I remain an unrepentant pie-eyed optimist.)

Alex is still at the hospital. Bobby and I visited him for about an hour this afternoon. We were expecting that he would be doped up and perhaps immobile and we'd have to visit him in the kennel, but we were put in a room and a tech brought in a blanket, followed by Alex. We were told to take as long as we wanted.

When Bobby spoke to the vet this morning, Alex's red blood count had continued to drop, and they were on the verge of giving him a transfusion if it dropped any further. (During surgery last night, a liter of blood was removed from his abdominal cavity; even the vet expressed surprise that he'd bled so much.) He also hadn't eaten.

Thankfully, his blood count has stabilized, so he still has not required a transfusion. As soon as he came in ... well, he looked rough, but he just endured major abdominal surgery. He was mobile, though, and developed a small spring in his step when he saw us. Bobby hand-fed him some of the bland diet the tech left with us, and Alex ate it, although reluctantly. We took him out for a short walk, and he even cranked up his pace to a light trot. When we got back in, he ate more of his bland diet on his own and drank some water. He laid down and went to sleep while Bobby and I scratched him all over his body.

They had shaved his left foreleg all the way around to accommodate the IV, which meant that they shaved off part of his cowboy fringe! (The long feathers on the backs of his forelegs that look like the fringe on cowboy chaps.) His belly was shaved--they even shaved his penis!--and his incision runs from his groin to midway up his abdomen and is held closed with staples. I asked him what was worse: that they shaved his penis or his cowboy fringe. He was more upset about the cowboy fringe. I pointed out that he sometimes pees on his cowboy fringe. That, he pointed out, was his own choice of how to use his own cowboy fringe. The IV didn't go in the back of his leg, so the cowboy fringe could have been left untouched. Whatever, Alex!

At this point, it is looking like he will be home tomorrow.

As for his long-term prognosis: A sample from the tumor on his spleen will, of course, be sent off for testing. So we will know whether it is malignant (I am almost certain it is) and whether it is the particularly aggressive form of cancer so common to Goldens. (Again: almost certain it is.) BUT--the glimmer of hope since yesterday--Bobby and I have since heard from several people whose dogs were diagnosed with the same cancer, who underwent chemotherapy, and went on to live for several years of good life. (Because that is always my caveat: the life must be worth living. I will not keep him sick and suffering because of our inability to let go. But chemo in dogs is apparently not awful like it is in people.) The hospital where he is now also has several oncologists on staff, so we will get a referral to see one of them once the results of the biopsy is back. We have already started talking with the ER vets about setting that up.

(Once again: I am so grateful that we have been paying all these years into good insurance for both Alex and Lance. Bobby called the insurance company this morning, and Alex's surgery and any further oncology treatments he needs will be fully covered. The vet we spoke to this afternoon was relieved to hear that he had insurance and said she wished more pets did. It is sad to think how many animals are put down for reasons of cost who might otherwise survive.)

When we left, he was distressed to see us go. That is the worst part: that you cannot explain to them that you will be back, that they are not being abandoned. They did let him take his orange football back to his kennel with him, so I hope that will be a little reminder of home and that he will be returning there with us, and soon.

Here he is, from our visit today, looking at a little rough but pretty good, all things considered:

 photo photo 2_zpsra3sol1a.jpg

 photo photo 1_zpsuw8my0fg.jpg
dawn_felagund: (alex say what)
I started this cute entry about my students at work today and now find I cannot post it because I find myself 180 degrees from where I was those eight hours ago. We received some very bad news about Alex today. About two weeks ago, he woke up one morning, very lethargic and holding his body like he was sore in his tummy. Bobby called his vet and managed to get an afternoon appointment, but by the time the afternoon rolled around, Alex was fine again. Today, it happened again. Our vet didn't have any appointments available but referred us to a vet in Westminster, so we took him in as soon as I got home from work.

At first, she could find nothing wrong with him. But he was clearly exhausted and wouldn't even stand up when we pretended to leave and call him. She checked his gums and noticed they were a little pale, so she recommended bloodwork and some X-rays, just to be on the safe side and since he was clearly unwell. We usually can't get Alex to sit down at the vet; now we couldn't get him to stand up.

It's a good thing that she recommended the tests because the bloodwork showed he was slightly anemic, and the X-ray suggested internal bleeding. She inserted a needle into his abdomen, and it immediately filled with blood. She began calling around to emergency vet offices to get him in for more tests and observation. We ended up in Towson because the Carroll County Animal ER had already had one emergency surgery tonight and wasn't sure they had enough blood if he needed a transfusion.

Long story short, an ultrasound at the Towson ER showed a mass on his spleen that had ruptured, causing the internal bleeding. The ER vet explained that a particularly aggressive form of cancer, common in Goldens, often causes blood vessel-rich tumors to form on the liver and spleen. They rupture and cause internal bleeding. They also spread fast, and once they begin to metastasize, dogs generally have 3 to 6 months to live. Our two options were to have his spleen removed or put him down. The ultrasound showed no lesions on his liver or anywhere but his spleen, and his bloodwork was good aside from the slight anemia. He has insurance, so the cost of the surgery was no object, so we chose the first.

On our way home, the vet called from the OR: He had multiple masses on his spleen, and she also spotted two smaller lesions on his liver. She gave us the option to complete the surgery and see how things went, or we could have him put down in surgery. Of course, we chose the first.

I remember like it was yesterday when we first brought him home when he was a baby. I remember what he felt like when I held him in my arms. He was small--too small--and infested with fleas and sick with Lyme disease. He slept constantly, curled in my arms on next to me on the couch. This is too soon to think of his life ending when I still remember it beginning so vividly. You know you will very likely outlive your pets, but he is only eight years old. I thought of us only halfway through our journey together, and now it seems very likely we are at the end.

Throughout the night, Bobby and I looked for every glimmer of hope and kept it as our polestar. Now we are to the point of hoping he recovers quickly enough that we can keep him comfortable and happy and enjoy what time we have left with him. This is too effing soon. Please think good thoughts for my Alex and be patient and kind with me. We both need it.

ETA: The vet just called. Alex is awake after surgery. She said he was remarkably spry for a dog that just had major surgery. We will be able to visit him tomorrow. He will probably come home Wednesday.

Fight, Alex, fight.
dawn_felagund: (feanor fall)
Okay, at long last, I am sharing the video of my presentation at the New York Tolkien Conference here. The full title (which will not fit in the space allotted for titles) is "The Loremasters of Fëanor: Historical Bias in the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien and Transformative Works." It discusses both the evidence for historical bias in Tolkien's works (especially The Silmarillion) and how the fan community uses that bias to create fanworks.



You won't be able to see the data and other visual aids on the screen behind me. That data (as well as a detailed synopsis of the paper) is available on my blog The Heretic Loremaster.

Also, a friendly reminder that The Heretic Loremaster does have a feed set up on both LJ and DW at [syndicated profile] heretic_lore_feed. Following this feed will bring new HL posts directly to your flist. Because my journal has come to be just that--a journal--it is usually the last place that I bring fannish stuff; however, I know a lot of people who friended me here did so because of our shared fandom involvement, so if you miss seeing that stuff here, the HL feed might help a bit. (Just a bit because it is infrequently updated thanks to my grad school schedule!) Also, please remember that I have no ownership or control over this feed, which means that I don't receive comments left on feed posts. Please comment directly on the posts themselves; no membership is required to do so.

The paper will eventually be available to read but I need to clean up citations first. If you don't mind my sloppy sourcing and want a copy early, just let me know.

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Dawn Felagund

March 2016

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