Tough Day for Bandicoot

Bandi was sedated and had an ultrasound and aspiration biopsy on her left rear leg today.  In this picture you can see the bandage on her left front leg where the IV was placed.  You can also see the knee on her left leg that has been shaved and looking rather swollen. 

If you look closer, you might be able to tell that her right rear leg is about to buckle under.  Just after I took this picture Bandi nearly fell into her water bowl.  She is extremely tired and weak.

During the ultrasound on her leg, the technician could see that there is a definite mass, or tumor in the middle of the stifle (knee) joint.  In the diagram below, if you look at the bottom picture where the knee cap has been peeled back, imagine a mass of soft tissue so large in the middle of that joint, that the femur, tibia and fibula bones are separated and pushed out of place.  That’s what has been happening in Bandi’s knee.  Ouch.

A needle was poked into the mass and some fluid was pulled out of the tumor.  We now must wait for the results of this test (cytology) to determine what type of cancer this is.  The doctor who did the biopsy assumes it is either Synovial Cell Sarcoma or Lymphoma.

No cancer is good news, but I feel like we’re getting closer to at least knowing what our possibilities are.  Peace of mind is always a good thing.

I’m sure Bandi has been in pain more than she has shown it.  She is such a trooper.  I love the following quote, which teaches me about the sweet angelic spirit of dogs.

“Dogs have more love than integrity. They’ve been true to us, yes, but they haven’t been true to themselves.”

Clarence Day,

This Simian World

Bandicoot…Heartbeat at My Feet

“I’m not afraid of being dead. I’m just afraid of what you might have to go through to get there.”

Pamela Bone

Our sweet cancer-ridden girl is getting weaker.  It’s so very hard to watch on this, Day 40 since she was diagnosed.

Colitis is taking over, and Bandi has constant gas, bloating and diarrhea.  She is still eating (probably because the Prednisone she’s on makes her voracious), but she is getting weaker.  One small step separates the garage from our living room, and she can barely get up that one step.

She constantly pants so hard that I worry about her little heart exploding.  That is why I can relate to the quote above.  I have accepted that Bandi will die, but I hate watching her go through such misery to get there.

Bandi will see the veterinarian tomorrow to have another ultrasound, and to have an aspiration biopsy of the soft tissue of her knee.  This is where the suspected cancer started and continues to grow.  With two lymph nodes now affected, they may also take a look at those while doing the biopsy.  Updates when we know more…..

“My little dogs … heartbeats at my feet.”

Edith Wharton – One of the first founders of the ASPCA

Compare your Business to an Airport

Seth Godin recently posted the following on his
blog.  Many parts of his message relate to your business or organization.  You’ll find my narrative about Seth’s thoughts in parenthesis.

Seth begins by stating, “I realized that I don’t dislike flying–I dislike
airports. There are so many things we can learn from what they do wrong”. Seth lists eleven things that airports do wrong.  I hope your business is not guilty of any of these things.

1. No one is in charge. The airport doesn’t appear to have a CEO, and if it does, you never see her, hear about her or interact with her in any way. When the person at the top doesn’t care, it filters down. (Do you clearly understand that leadership starts at the top?  The business owner, president or CEO must have a clear vision that is filtered down from there.  That structure will make your business more successful)

2. Problems persist because organizations defend their turf instead of embrace the problem. The TSA blames the facilities people, who blame someone else, and around and around. Only when the user’s problem is the driver of behavior (as opposed to maintaining power or the status quo) things change. (If you and your staff members are not working as a team to understand WHY your customers are coming to your business, and WHAT they’re looking for there, you will never be able to retain them.  The business must also focus on the strengths of each individual team member and use those strengths effectively.)

3. The food is aimed squarely at the (disappearing) middle of the market. People who like steamed meat and bags of chips never have a problem finding something to eat at an airport. Apparently, profit-maximizing vendors haven’t realized that we’re all a lot weirder than we used to be.  (Is your business offering a Happy Meal, when you’d rather be selling steak?  Many businesses advertise for new customers using coupons and discounts.  Experience shows that the customers brought in by these types of offers aren’t always the customers you want.  Chances are there are a lot of businesses that provide the same service you do.  That’s why your business must stand out as different, better, or more serviceable if you’re going to navigate the market successfully)

4. Like colleges, airports see customers as powerless transients. Hey, you’re going to be gone tomorrow, but they’ll still be here. (Besides working toward gaining new customers, every business should have a plan in place to retain the customers they already have.  You really aren’t gaining customers if you’re not retaining them, too.)

5. By removing slack, airlines create failure.  In order to increase profit, airlines work hard to get the maximum number of flights out of each plane, each day. As a result, there are no spares, no downtime and no resilience. By assuming that their customer base prefers to save money, not anxiety, they create an anxiety-filled system. (Trust is one of the MOST important characteristics you want your customers to feel about you.  If you fail to build rapport and cement relationships of trust, your business will not reach it’s potential.  And that goal not only applies to your customers, it applies to your employees as well)

6. The TSA is ruled by superstition, not fact. They act without data and put on a quite serious but ultimately useless bit of theater. Ten years later, the theater is now becoming an entrenched status quo, one that gets ever worse.  (I have experienced businesses that cycle through the SAME actions year after year “because it’s what we’ve always done”.  Can we say, “stagnation”!  Technology, social media, and marketing rules are constantly changing.  If you’re not open to new ideas, then nothing new will happen in your business)

7. The ad hoc is forbidden. Imagine an airplane employee bringing in an extension cord and a power strip to deal with the daily occurrence of travelers hunched in the corner around a single outlet. Impossible. There is a bias toward permanent and improved, not quick and effective.  (Don’t focus on what can’t be done, but consider, however unlikely, what CAN be done.  Listen to your team–they have great ideas.  As much as possible try their solutions, and recognize their contribution.)

8. Everyone is treated the same. Effective organizations treat different people differently. While there’s some window dressing at the edges (I’m thinking of slightly faster first class lines and slightly more convenient motorized cars for seniors), in general, airports insist that the one size they’ve chosen to offer fit all.  (Give your customers choices, and never make judgements about what you think they will want or can afford.  Present the value and benefit, and people will find a way to get what they want.  Which means, you HAVE to KNOW what they want….)

9. There are plenty of potential bad surprises, but no good ones. You can have a flight be canceled, be strip searched or even go to the wrong airport. But all possibility for delight has been removed. It wouldn’t take much to completely transform the experience from a chore to a delight.  (Reward your customers for their loyalty.  Give them free product or a free service from time to time.  Ask them to refer their friends and family to you, then show your appreciation when they do so)

10. They are sterile. Everyone who passes through leaves no trace, every morning starts anew. There are no connections between people, either fellow passengers or the staff. No one says, “welcome back,” and that’s honest, because no one feels particularly welcome.  (What do you know about your customers?  If your business is service related, it is imperative that you know and remember your customers.  I saw the same hairdresser every six weeks for about a year.  I would have stayed with her longer, but I had to re-introduce myself at EVERY appointment.  How many customers are you losing because you aren’t connecting?)

11. No one is having any fun. Most people who work at airports have precisely the same demeanor as people who work at a cemetery. The system has become so industrialized that personal expression is apparently forbidden.  (Have you considered the first impressions you’re making?  Who is answering your phone?  Who are customers seeing first when they walk in the door?  Make sure these people have a cheerful attitude, and that they’re smiling!)

Seth Godin finishes his remarks by writing, “As we see at many organizations that end up like this, the airport mistakes its market domination for a you-have-no-choice monopoly (we do have a choice, we stay home). And in pursuit of reliable, predictable outcomes, these organizations dehumanize everything, pretending it will increase profits, when it actually does exactly the opposite”.

I’ll finish this blog post by asking you to consider whether you are/aren’t focusing on your customers rather than profit?  Not so much the customer you hope to gain, but on the customer that you have—the customer who is involved in and buying from your business.  Make sure THAT customer is happy and reaping benefit from your business.  When that customer is happy, your business will have the profits you’re looking for.

Tell me about an area that you feel your business is weak in.  Then tell me and my readers what you plan to do to strengthen that area of your business.

Fly safely!

Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us…

It’s been 5 months today since we said goodbye to
our Aussie, Boomerang, because of hemangiosarcoma in the spleen.

It’s also been 1 month (or 32 days) since learning that our Aussie, Bandicoot, has a terminal form of cancer.

Bandi saw the veterinarian on Tuesday, and we have the results of her x-rays.

  • The sub-lumbar lymph node has decreased in size by a pretty good amount
  • She now has an inguinal lymph node (near the groin) that is enlarged
  • The x-ray of the leg doesn’t indicate bone cancer, but the knee joint is very swollen
  • No sign of any tumors in the belly

So, what next?  Well, the vet thinks that we can try to do an aspiration biopsy of the knee.  The objective would be to find out what type of cancer we’re dealing with.  The vet still feels that treatment is not probable.

After a few days now, the diarrhea has subsided.  However, Bandi pee’d while laying on the floor Thursday.  Weird.  She is eating well, in fact her appetite is voracious.  We will now wait until we hear when the ultrasound technician will be at the vet’s office.

“Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day.
It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.”
John Grogan, Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog

A ride in the car on day 27!

WARNING: disgusting language about bodily functions will be found in the first two sentences.
A trip to the vet was warranted today because of continued diarrhea from Miss Bandicoot. I also noticed some mucus and blood in her stools.

“Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car,
in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing
right in your ear.”

Dave Barry

Bandi enjoyed the car ride, but not the veterinary exam so much.  After a rectal exam and x-rays, here’s what we know:

1. The steroid has worked well to decrease swelling in her back left leg
2. The x-ray shows continued damage in the knee, but it doesn’t appear that there is cancer in the bone of the leg.  If there is cancer, it is most likely in the soft tissue of the knee, perhaps a Synovial Cell Sarcoma
3. The inflamed sub-lumbar lymph node seems to be slightly smaller than before.
4. X-rays do not reveal ANY masses or tumors in the abdomen
5. No discovery of a tumor was found with a rectal exam
6. Currently she has colitis, probably caused by the steroid.
7. She has lost 1 pound since November

Even with all that knowledge, we still don’t know exactly where cancer is, if there is indeed cancer.  We also don’t know what type of cancer she may have–if she has cancer.  So many “ifs” and so little surety!

We were encouraged to refrain from giving her the raw food she normally gets, and provide greater amounts of the dry kibble.  She is also to take a Probiotic, which was prescribed for her today.  Lastly, we are going to reduce the amount of the steroid by a small amount in hopes that the colitis improves.

We will wait for any additional news from the radiologist after he/she reviews the films taken today.

Day 26: Going out the door without her

Day 26 since the determination that Bandicoot has cancer and cannot be saved. 

I had to go out of town this past weekend for training, and I hated to leave Bandi behind.  The last time I left for a training such as this was in August.  Boomerang got so sick while I was gone in August that we had to say goodbye to him the day after I returned.

Imagine my despair when my husband texted me in Phoenix to say that Bandi was having some diarrhea.  That is exactly how the end began for Boomerang.  The one consolation was that Bandi was still eating.  You may remember my last post about her voracious appetite?  Well, that continues.  So even with diarrhea, Bandi was at least getting nutrition.

I returned last night to find that she still had “the runs”.  Therefore, I slept on the coach so she could tell me when/if she needed to go outside.  And she did.  Bandi woke me up 3 times during the night to let her out.  Poor baby.

She ate well this morning, seemed to rest most of the morning, and her poop has firmed up a bit.  Maybe she was just missing me?

“The greatest fear dogs know is the fear that you will not come back when you go out the door without them.”

Day 20: The Voracious Eater!

Mark Twain said,
“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.”

Clearly, Mark Twain was not talking about a dog on steriods.  Although Bandi has never bitten us while giving her food; at this point I would not be surprised if she would bite us while taking it away. 

This is day 20 since we decided to “keep Bandi comfortable” after a diagnosis of terminal cancer.  And it’s day 18 of steriod use to decrease swelling and pain in her cancerous leg. 

Bandi does not act sick.  She doesn’t act as if there is a cancer taking over her body and organs.  But she simply can’t get enough to eat.  Where is the sweet little girl who would give us soft kisses and wag her stub when we merely talked to her?

If Bandi could talk she’d probably say, “No Kisses for you!” like some kiss nazi from the TV show, Seinfeld.  She has tried desperately to satisfiy her hunger by finding beef bones that have been in the doggie toy box for a couple of years and chewing the heck out of them.  I’m serious.  She would actually break off peices of the bone and swallow them whole if she could—and she tries!


These pictures show Bandi with a frozen beef bone she got for Christmas.  This one still has meat on it!  YUMMM!  Take note of the blurriness of the photos themselves.  She was going to town on that thing!

A conversation with the vet today gives us s new plan: instead of giving the entire dose of the steriod once a day, we’re going to break up the dose into two separate times.  Hopefully this will keep her from being so voracious!

“There is always hope for man or dog in life if only they be cute”
Chris Pariseau

Bandi abounds in HOPE because she abounds in cuteness!