When we arrived at the trailer Thursday afternoon, it was the first time without our beloved dog Billie.
She loved it up north and like any dog, she had a certain ritual every time we came north.
First of all, she'd stand in the truck as we made the bend approaching Burleigh Falls - it's nothing unique to dogs, but something that has always fascinated me.
How do they know? Is it something in the air? She could be sound asleep in the back of the truck, but as soon as we made the bend at the top of the hill approaching the entrance off the highway she would stand up and wag her tail.
Then as I stopped the truck behind the trailer, she would pace a bit until I'd open the tail gate and she'd jump out.
At that point, one of two things would happen. Either she'd greet her best friend Joe, another beautiful dog, or if Joe wasn't there, she'd head straight for the water and cool off while we unloaded the cargo.
Billie would go for a short swim, then just sit there, chest high in water, and watch us as we carried things into the tin palace.
I didn't look forward to the first time without Bill but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Thanks goodness I wasn't alone, I had my wife Delyse with me, and over the previous two weeks we had pretty well come to grips with Bill's death.
I stood there for a few moments with a heavy heart and then I remembered what so many people had said to me - think of the good things - the good life she lived and the wonderful memories she provided, and that really does help.
I got a little emotional when Joe arrived with her family and she wandered over to greet Bill but I sucked it up and went and got her one of Bill's jerky treats as I normally would.
Beyond that, there's not a lot to say.
We're blessed with so many fabulous friends and it makes it a lot easier when they stop by and say so many thoughtful things to make you feel better.
And then there's perspective.
Billie was only a dog and she was approaching twelve years of age. Get over it and move on.
Thank you everyone for the kind words and wishes my family received over the past day or so.
On the phone, through e-mail and on the website, it was all very much appreciated.
It's absolutely amazing how the death of a dog can rip your heart out.
I realize there are probably people out there thinking "come on man, get over it, it was just a dog" and I can understand that. But at the same time, you have to live it to understand it and if you've lived it, you know it ain't easy.
I could go on for hours about what a fantastic dog Billie was but I won't. Everybody thinks their dog was the greatest dog on earth and that's what makes them so special.
They not only become part of your family, they become part of you and that's the way it was with Bill.
From the day we go her in August of 1996 she was with me virtually every day. Because of Billy, I always had company.
Doing a morning show meant I was home by 11:00 in the morning so it was just me and Bill till the kids got home. When each of my kids went off the college, it was the same thing, many hours of many days it was just me and Bill.
And over the past couple of years with my employment situation, Billy was the one constant. The kids were gone and my wife was at work so that left me talking to no one but the dog most of the time.
That will be the toughest part. Not having her around. Not having her follow me from room to room and not having her outside with me, following me wherever I went with here nose just inches from my calf.
But you know what they say; the day you get a dog you're setting yourself up for heartbreak just a few short years down the road. You know that going in, and you have to accept it going out.
Dogs are bloody amazing. From time to time everyone in your life might get pissed off at you for some thing on some level, but never your dog - with them, it's unconditional no matter how much of a jerk you can be.
I received many nice messages yesterday, including some poems, quotes and prayers and I thank you for all of it.
But the one that made me chuckle, was sent by Jim Richards of CFRB because it's so true. Here it is.
Richard Nixon once said about his dog Checkers "may I only be half the person my dog thinks I am "
The unconditional love is pretty amazing.
All the Best
I hope to have the website back on track by tomorrow - I think by then I may actually care about what's going on in the world again.
I can't believe that roughly one week after posting the FreddieP. short story about our beautiful dog Billie going to the vet for her annual check-up, I have to tell you that we had to put her down on Saturday.
In the space of four days, a common canine blood disease (immune-mediated hemolytic anemia) that attacks the red blood cells took hold of Bill and wouldn't let go.
She was probably harboring the disease for some time, but it exploded over the past week.
On Monday she seemed fine, on Tuesday she was a bit listless, on Wednesday night she collapsed and by Thursday the diagnosis was in.
Billie's red blood cell count was dropping like a rock and tests proved that she wasn't producing any new ones.
She spent Thursday night in an emergency hospital that confirmed the disease and we were told that in some cases the disease is treatable and the best place for that would be the small animal clinic at the University of Guelph.
We got Billie out there as fast as we could and after being told it was a 50/50 proposition; we decided to go ahead with treatment.
But after two blood transfusions and some heavy duty drugs, the people who loved Bill the most made the decision - we didn't want to put her through any more.
She'll be twelve in December and the best case scenario would have been a slow recovery but a lifetime of medication and constant blood tests.
When we went to visit Billie on Saturday her eyes told the story. There was no fight in her, her breathing was laboured and she couldn't stand up.
She was scared to death and as crazy as it sounds, she looked almost embarrassed or ashamed that she was in such a state. But that was Billie, she lived to please us.
It as a tough couple of hours, as we reviewed all the options and realized she'd be well into her 13th year by the time we could declare any type of normalcy in her life, and again, that was a best case scenario.
Even then, with her weak back-end chances are she'd have trouble getting up off the floor.
The University vets claimed that Bill would need at least another two or three days before they could clearly decide whether she would respond to treatment, but we couldn't do it to her.
We knew our girl and as hard as it was to accept, her time was up.
She was a great dog who had a great life with a family who didn't know how much they loved her until we carried her out to a courtyard at the hospital.
And beside a tree, in the cool shade, with all of us hugging and kissing her we said goodbye to the most wonderful dog on earth.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece about my mother's birthday.
She turned 80 on Friday, so yesterday we held a get together at my brother's place in old town Milton which is remarkably beautiful.
This was actually a double celebration because on Wednesday, my mom and dad celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.
It was a great time. It was a great time, the whole family was there, we had good food and good drink, enjoying every minute a fine day with two great people who are still going strong into their ninth decade.
Thanks to my brother Joe and his wife Gwen the highlight of the day was a horse and carriage ride for June and Dick that took them through the older more established part of Milton which really is like something out of a movie.
As a matter of fact, right where my brothers lives, several movies have been shot because of a beautiful park with an old style bandstand and gorgeous town hall that I had no idea existed.
Anyway, it was a fabulous day and I took my trusty little Nikon so I could share a few moments will Dick and June.
If they make it till Wednesday - 60 years together.
My dog Billie turns twelve this December and from my perspective, there would be no reason to take her to the vet for shots this spring.
All she does in lay around all day and from some information I read on the internet, she had been so pumped full of rabies vaccine and heartworm medicine over the years there was enough in her system to last her till she croaks.
Considering her spring visit to the vet last year cost me $278.00 it was easy to get my head around the argument from several sources that there is no need for dogs to get shots every year and especially not necessary when they reach their senior years.
I simply wasn't going to get sucked in this year.
Nothing against the veterinarian, he's a nice man and he's got to make a living just like anyone else, but after a $278.00 bill I was going to stand firm this year, relieve Billie of the stress and save my self close to three hundred bucks.
Then my wife Delyse got involved. She saw the letter for the vet reminding us that Billie was due for her shots and it was highly recommended that she have a heartworm blood test this year.
The letter came in early May but I ignored it because I may look like a dummy, but I wasn't going to be one this year. Not to the tune of $278.00.
But Delyse argued that "you never know" and we go up north all the time and what if something bit Billie - anything from a mosquito to a racoon.
Delyse insisted that I call the vet because if anything ever did happen, I'd feel like shit and the kids would never forgive me.
So I caved in. But just a bit. I said I'd take the dog to the vet but I would set the ground rules.
There would be no blood tests, no stool samples, and no heartworm crap.
I'd take the dog to the vet and she'd have a quick check-up and maybe a rabies vaccine - Jesus Christ, when I was a kid you could take your dog to the pound and they'd give her a shot for five bucks and it was over. There was none of this high falootin' bullshit they have nowadays.
As I walked into the vets office he noticed that Billie had a bit of a limp and asked me about it. I said she was up north on the weekend and was chasing chipmunks and from time to time she limps.
He then explained the hip displacement problems labs can have, and although we don't necessarily know it, dogs can be experiencing arthritic pain just like humans.
I told him not to worry; I had read on the internet that you can give dogs aspirin and that's what I planned to do.
He said that was a good idea but told me to make sure I get the aspirin that's easy on their stomachs because it can cause internal bleeding if they're on it too long.
No problem I said.
Then the doctor recommended a medicine that is easy on the stomach, and works differently than aspirin. Aspirin doesn't go right to the problem area, but "Apo Meloxicam" does, and you only have to use it once a day and it works out to just slightly more the price of aspirin and the results will be quicker and more dramatic.
I bought some.
And then the doctor noticed Billie's gums. They appeared to be red and inflamed and aloud he wondered why.
I offered that maybe it was because she's twelve years old, which translates to about 72 human years and not too often you see old bastards with nice teeth unless they're fake.
He countered that maybe it was a bacteria build up somewhere else in her body and it was manifesting in her gums. This is common and could mean kidney or liver problems.
He recommended a geriatric blood screening. And I agreed.
At this point I was getting a little concerned about my beautiful girl. Bad hips and a bacteria build up didn't sound too good, but the vet made me feel better when he told me Billie wouldn't need a rabies vaccine because he had given her a two year jobbie in 2006.
"What about heartworm." I said
"I'll give you the medicine." He said.
"But is it really necessary?" I questioned.
"If you're going up north every weekend where there are lots of mosquitoes, I highly recommend it."
He went on to say that the incidences of heartworm were actually growing and not only did he recommend heartworm medicine, he thought I should use the new topical kind that you spray on their necks - it's slightly more expensive, but way more protective.
I told him to give me some.
At that point, the doctor told me he was finished. Billie's examination was over, and for the most part, she was doing pretty well for a twelve-year-old dog.
At that point, I felt pretty good about myself. I had come into the office adamant that I wasn't going to pay for both heartworm treatment and a rabies vaccine and as it turned out I didn't have to pay for the rabies vaccine.
I had won half the battle, so it was no problem paying the bill.
I got a call from my mother yesterday and she was quite excited because in her words, she got her "old lady license."
The old blister turns 80 on June 8th and provincial law says you have to take a written test to keep your license valid.
Seems odd to me; if anything you'd think they'd have to take an actual road test to prove they can still see and hear and react. But they don't. What they have to do is take an eight page written test that my mom says was quite challenging.
In her words "it was tough but I only got two wrong. One was something like a yield sign but it was orange, and the other one I can't remember because I'm an old bastard."
Anyway, she got it and she's proud of herself and the best thing is she's not afraid to drive anywhere in Mississauga.
When my mom and dad were living in Stayner she didn't like driving on the two lane highways, and she finds the city a lot easier on her nerves.
So there you have it. Junie Bug is still road worthy and if you want, hit the "discuss" button and congratulate her, feel free.
She visits this site about four thousand times a day because she loves to read the comments.
I took some time out yesterday to go and visit Dick and June at their condo in Mississauga.
They love the freakin' place. It's ground floor and is roughly 50 yards from the edge of a lake. It's a beautiful setting that's enhanced by my dad's green thumb.
Within a few weeks their patio area will come alive with colourful impatiences and over-flowing hanging baskets.
As people walk along the shore line they often stop and look at my mom and dad's place because it's such a wonderful compliment to the area.
But unfortunately, there's one slight problem.
They haven't quite figured out "who" yet, but someone above them throws a ham sandwich over their balcony every day and it lands in my dad's garden.
We figure its some kid who's pulling a fast one on his mother. Mom probably makes the kids lunch but rather than eat it the good stuff he eats junk and then disposes of the ham sandwich so mom doesn't know.
I realize this raises all kinds of questions. Like why doesn't he throw it in the garbage outside of the condo? Or why doesn't he walk down the hall and put the goddamn thing in the incinerator?
To this point Dick and June can't answer these questions. All they know is that every day for over a week a ham sandwich comes falling from the sky into their garden.
Yesterday I was there when it happened. I was on the couch watching Oprah with my mom when something caught the corner of my eye. I leaped off the couch and out on the patio as my dad kept repeating something about a ham sandwich.
And there it was - brown bread with several slices of what appeared to be expensive ham in between with mayo and a bit of lettuce.
I looked up to see where it came from but there was no one to be seen on any of the balconies, which sort of pissed me off. I would have loved to get on the elevator and confront the wasteful wiener who was responsible.
But according to Junie, it's just a matter of time before they catch the culprit. There are fifteen floors and she knows about eight of the people that live above her.
That means the ham sandwich is coming from one of six other apartments, and she plans to continue her investigation - and once she determines where its coming from she's going to grab the evidence and bang on the door and ask the mother of the house if she recognizes the ham sandwich.
And if she does, Junie's going to recommend she change meat the odd time, because after all, what kid wants ham every day.