April 3rd, 2007


I Sleep with Darth Vader

I woke up early this morning to the sound of heavy breathing. My husband is beside me and Zilla is on the floor. I just listen. After a while I hear Zilla's body buck in his not-so-graceful manner when he gets up from his side. It's nearly time for the alarm to go off. Eventually it does and I don't hit snooze. I lie beside Zilla and ask if he wants on the bed but he just moves around in a circle before settling down in a comfortable spot. He watches me start to dress and when I open the baby gate he hops up with hope in his eyes.

Within a few minutes I return and set him free. He drinks two bowls of water before he's ready to go outside. His panting stops. Outside he does what he needs to do and all seems normal.

I reward him with a soft treat. When we are inside the apartment he lies underneath the doorway between the dining and family rooms. He ignores the sound of his breakfast hitting his food bowl. Zilla lies by the front door and keeps me company while I eat breakfast and watch the weather forecast.

From the bathroom I can see him in the bedroom. He is lying down and panting again. Later when I'm putting on my makeup I peek at him. The sound is so loud at first I can't tell if it's him or my husband snoring. It's Zilla.

Before leaving I talk Zilla into getting on the bed with my husband. He lets me rub his belly and accepts the hugs from my husband. When I leave the bedroom Zilla follows me and ends up in front of me. He stands at the top of the stairs.

"I'm going downstairs."
He moves closer.
"I'm still going downstairs."
He waits.
I stand beside him and step on the first step.
He bounces down the stairs, legs straight and beats me to the bottom.

Zilla escorts me to the back door.
"Do you have to pee?"
He runs forward. I clip his leash on and out we go. Back legs on the sidewalk, he braces his legs and barely makes his grassy target. I laugh at him.

We return inside and he begins to eat his breakfast.

In the car I realize I've forgotten my palm pilot. Since I haven't left the parking lot I return to get it. Zilla is waiting for me by the door. He follows me upstairs. Once upstairs he stays with my husband.

With all that heavy breathing I fully expect our vet will tell me I need to go to the emergency vet right away. His attitude is good - he's not complaining though I know he's uncomfortable - and he still wants food, it's just difficult to eat.

Zilla Update

Zilla's vet visit went well today. He's gained about 2.5 lbs since last week. As usual everyone fussed over him. He loved the attention. Today they took some blood, cleaned some debris from his left ear and found an ouchie. Just underneath his chin buried under his fur was a raw area. What's odd is that it looks a little bit like the growth Zilla had in August that burst open. I think his tags are rubbing against it. Besides the huge left lymph node the right one got bigger.

This is probably why his jowls are pulling down. His swollen gums show that his body is trying to fight some kind of infection. The lymph nodes are the body's natural cleansing system of bad stuff and they're trying to work even with the cancer.

I think the vet visit was a good one. Zilla's feeling (and sounding!) better.

With this pet recall I've been looking into Zilla's diet a bit more. I bought him some Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Eatables. The food is supposed to be good enough for humans to eat - the manufacturing facility meets USDA regulations. I bought him the Irish Stew which looked pretty substantial. He's also got a few cans of the Venison and Brown Rice food. Zilla's nose was orange after eating the food; he'd buried his nose in it to get every last bit. I'll probably end up getting him the dry food when he can eat it comfortably again and after he finishes his bag of Drs. Foster Smith food.

Yesterday I ordered a peanut butter cake for his birthday. He's 11 on Thursday.