Windsurfing is our first passion as surf dogs. We love to sail the Columbia River, right in our Oregon front yard. My three dogs sons - Elvis, Dude and Doodle sail with me in Hood River, Oregon, the windsurfing capital of the world.Read More
Part 4 of “The Elephant in the room” mini series
Now, after surgery, banging around the house with a Cone Of Shame, doxie Doodle’s eyes are a little less glisteny. The indignity!
But, cone is good – it helps protect those eight angry black stitches on Doodle’s head. Those pesky, annoying, scratchy itchy stitches…
Wieners are thin-skinned anyway, with tiny, pointy faces. They’re almost all nose and some eyes and there’s not a lot of hair or skin (or maybe even excess brains) left for a comb-over for the hole she cut.
Our lady vet must have run out of room. Some of his charismatic doxie forehead wrinkles got removed in the process.
It was a face-lift, like his eyebrows were raised all the time, exclaiming “WHASSUP, DUDE?!”
Normally, aren’t we all up for a little face-lift in middle age?
But it’s really weird on a middle-aged doxie.
I didn’t shoot a lot of photos during this time of our lives.
I waited until emancipation day – the day the cone came off – to resume my normal hundred-plus--dog-pictures-per-week habit.
It was the right thing to do.
We have a dog blog but the cone of indignity was plenty to deal with. You know, doggie HIPPA and all.
His head zipper slowly melted, from angry raised red skin, to flat, bald scalp.
I clipped the stitches out myself with tools from my own personal disasters.
Doodle was a rather patient patient, which is so unlike the humans of my family.
Another eight stitches swam beneath the surface of his little forehead, and they’d dissolve on their own in another month, vet lady said.
I can’t breathe until biopsy results come back.
I can’t breathe, just thinking about it.
The elephant on his head.
In the room.
How quickly things can change.
The Big C.
Phone call, please don't take me back to last year when my old blind dog, Dude, got sick and never recovered.
I miss my Dude, surfing life, and surfing waves with our Surf Dog Diaries family.
Even after losing one eye, then two.
Surfing with glaucoma. Cancer. And Alzheimer’s.
I miss my Elvis, proud basset nose rider on my surfboard. Seeing Eye dog for his blind brother. And me.
Since that crappy year of dog disasters, we’re still trying to find our Mojo, Doodle and I.
Trying to act like the house isn’t painfully empty of another 40 toes, tap dancing when the food bowl calls.
Surfing with one dog, not three.
But after the adjustment period, the grieving and the trying-to-act-normal-again, I think Doodle is secretly happy to earn the top dog spot.
He lived in the shadow of the basset boys.
He has now expanded to fill the void.
He shows me the way through grief – without blinking a stitched-up eye.
Now, no more fast-growing tumor that threatened to take over his head, and our lives, secretly ruining Christmas.
No more elephants.
His or mine.
Doodle’s only seven and a half - 49 in dog years. Too young for cancer.
The dreaded vet call came today.
Heart in throat moments until the vet spoke….
“A sebaceous adenoma, nothing to worry about. Should not recur or grow back. It’s all good news!”
But I read up on it –
“Adenomas are a cutaneous condition characterized by a slow-growing tumor usually presenting as a pink, flesh-colored, or yellow nodule”.
Hmm, that’s weird, I thought the elephant on his head was grey….
And Doodle’s tumor grew from zero to one-half-inch in less than a month, which is both fast and huge on a four-inch doxie brain.
His tumor was also not slow growing. What does that mean?
Google said, “Adenomas are not significant on their own, however may be associated with a genetic condition that predisposes individuals to cancer and particularly colorectal cancer.”
Which begs the question; do they do doxie colonoscopies these days?
OK. So we’re back to fake normal. Totally inappropriate thoughts.
A couple of years ago, the biopsy wasn’t so rosy for my blind dog Dude.
He had bad cancer that spread.
Still, we cheated death until the very end.
He never stopped living.
We stole another two years out of his cancer’s life.
THE MORAL OF OUR STORY IS THIS:
NO MATTER WHAT THE DIAGNOSIS –
WE’RE IN IT TOGETHER.
DON’T LET FEAR STOP LIFE.
OR DRIVE LIFE.
SURF THAT BIOPSY INSTEAD.
Dear Dog Diary:
Every single thing I’m gonna tell you really happened. Nothing’s made up. You couldn’t make this stuff up. What I didn’t see or live myself, I learned from my dog bro’s, my mom, my kitty sis or some other animal relative.
I am Doodle, fourth generation Ayers family surf dog. The surf dog thing started long before me – almost 30 years ago - before dog surfing was even a sport – at Dog Beach in San Diego. Before surf dog contests were even invented.
My dog mom Barb Ayers and my basset bro’s made that scene in So Cal and came home with prizes for dog surfing.
Our family surf dog hang 20 legacy was handed down, dog to dog – from Howdy to Elvis to Dude and to me. I came along in January 2012, the first doxie of the pack. I did my first surf dog contest a year later.
These are our Surf Dog Diaries, memoir stories - all real life, not fiction, not a novel - but totally novel. We are a pack of rescue dogs who found our way from sadness to surfing.
But Diary - you need to overlook my writing skills. Typing skills.
My toes are too pointy and hairy for typing. Lip flapping - talking - is for you dog people. I’m not a verbal guy.
I speak with body. My spine. My nose. My actions. My heart.
I had a little help with the writing part.
Our surf dog story is about finding your way in a world that has totally changed.
About being changed.
Big, blaring cities with wall-to-wall houses, where no one knows each other any more. That’s why we escaped to a dinky dog town in the Pacific Northwest.
We moved from Dog Beach, California to Dog River, Oregon a decade ago.
Back in Cali, beaches crowded with too many towels and tourists. Houses three feet apart sell for a million bucks. The 3-feet-apart part is why everyone hangs at Dog Beach. It’s like San Diego’s national park for surfers, dogs and dog people. Home of Mother Ocean - our old friend.
Our other old friend, San Diego River, the first river of California, is now penned in, paved over - just a glinty tinkle along the I-8 freeway, with a trolley on top, on the way to the mall. River - she floods each year, stealing back parking spaces from Fashion Valley, on her way to Dog Beach. In San Diego, being one with nature meant watching River overflow in big rains – dumping yucky stuff into Ocean at our favorite beach.
Or going to that famous zoo or safari park my mom worked for. Or camping in the desert. Or escaping across the Mexico border, surfing in Baja – which is still sleepy and old school, how US beaches used to look.
That's when our pack started taking surfing safaris. And ended up in the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.
We love life in small town America - Hood River, Oregon. Mosier, White Salmon, Parkdale, Stevenson, and other dixky-doxie-sized towns in the Gorge.
So Cali’s - we love you guys, but there were just too many of you any more.
We are living proof that dogs and people rescue each other every day. Together, we ride the ups and downs, the waves of life. Together, we surf.
These are the secret Surf Dog Diaries. Moments between moments.
Melting hearts of grownups, who've outgrown the magic of life. That’s our #1 job as rescue dogs. As kids.
Inside all of that grownup human species tough talk, is a little puppy. Sometimes with all the talk, you people just miss out on the best parts of life. I’m pretty convinced that’s exactly why dogs don’t talk.
We need each other - extroverts and introverts. People and puppies. Parents and kids. Windsurfers, surfers and SUPpers (stand up paddleboarders.) Grand dogs and seniors. “Domesticated” dogs, feral and wild child friends. People in small towns and big cities all over the world.
My thing is body language - not human blah blah blah words in the air.
Meaningful looks. Heavy sighs. Toes touching mom's on a surfboard ride. A gentle lick on the hand when you need it most. Long leaners - your whole bod smashed against hers, solid and reliable. Thoughtful butt sniffing. Wild bunny chasing dreams on hardwood floors on a cold winter night. Camping snores in the middle of nowhere. Farts. Big dog hearts.
Somehow in our fam, that magically evolved into dogs hanging 20 toes on a surfboard together.
For years, I rode with my mom and my two dog bro’s - all four of us on board. Hang 70!
I am a carry on bag dog - flying through air - something none of my brothers could do.
I even tried surfing with a cat once. Well, that was just weird.
These are our stories.
Come on inside.
Circle around a couple of times - find just the right spot and plop down on the rug.
For the secret surf dog handshake.