Monday, December 31, 2012

Ian Burnet Has Been Missing for a Year

Ian, a year ago at Christmas.

How does a bright young man disappear without anyone seeing ?

A year ago, the imaginations and concerns of everyone from parents to college students themselves were taken up by the mysterious sudden disappearance of Ian Burnet.     Ian Burnet had absolutely everything going for him. He has a devoted mother and father, a loving older brother, and friends who love him.  He has extended family and a church group who would move Heaven and Earth for him.
He was academically successful in high school and was one semester shy of completing a degree in a computer related major, on full scholarship at Virginia Commonwealth University.  Ian also had the distinction of being one of the students who had a job lined up, that he had already reported to, before he received his degree.
              He took a brief trip with friends to New York City for the post Christmas New Year's Eve holiday, and has disappeared without a trace.  To most of us with children this age, this is a horror beyond our imagining.  Yes, although I have personally lost a child, I was there. I know what happened to my son, and I was there for him and with him.   Not to know where a son is or if he needs help must be beyond imagining.
              It has been one year since the disappearance of Ian Burnet.   Someone must know something or may have seen him since.  Once again, please revisit these pictures and think as to whether you may have seen him.  There is police and FBI contact information in my original posts below.

My prior posts on this case are:

For additional information:

I dedicate this song to those who love and miss Ian Burnet

 and also  to our Daniel,who is also missed.

 "My Love is Here" is performed by Roch Voisine and Jim Brickman

I dedicate this song to those who love and miss Ian Burnet and to our Daniel, also.


          Ian Burnet has been missing without a trace for now three years.   If you have seen him please contact those mentioned in the post above as contact points with the authorities.    Thank you.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Another Somber Christmas

Ro, in happier and healthier days.

   We survived the fourth Christmas which has occurred following the sudden passing of Daniel, the day after Thanksgiving, in 2008.   It was a pleasant gathering.   We bought a moderate number of gifts, and filled Christmas stockings.  My husband, the perennial excellent cook, prepared the turkey and other fixings including the stuffing, and I prepared sweet potatoes. All of our children came to the gathering, including our daughter who has her own house now.
                A lot of my time this Christmas was taken up caring for Rosheen  (Irish Gaelic spelling is Roisin)  When our small hunting dog Angus died on December 1st, at a very advanced age, Rosheen seemed depressed.   Despite my keeping an eye on her, she seemed to slide. She is fourteen, but not nearly as old as Angus had been.  This week it was hard to ignore her being withdrawn and so we finally had to have her assessed.  Ro had a bladder infection, which explains her comparative listlessness and poor appetite in the last couple of days.  We moved her from the kennel room she shared with Angus, and from the other dogs, to a warmer barn room which is more suitable for caring for sick animals.  We set up a sponge mattress, chux, and some soft and warm blankets.  Despite antibiotics, her appetite remains poor. She is drinking water very well. Fortunately, she is not diabetic, which would have made the management of this issue even tougher. I realize that time is winding down for Ro.  I would still like to get her through this illness and keep her with us for another few months, but I understand that I don't choose how long our beloved pets remain with us, as hard as we do try.
                Daniel was very fond of Rosheen. Our daughter Stephanie remembers that once when she was young, Ro ran off toward the road, and Daniel screamed,  "Rosheen !  Don't go, I love you !" And then the little dog returned to him.    So many of our animals were very young when we got them, and they grew up with Daniel. It's hard to watch them become old and pass now, even though we know they will go to Daniel
               I spent yesterday every one to two hours checking on Ro, offering everything from chicken broth to gatorade, and then eventually even turkey and plain sweet potatoes.  She took lots of fluids but no food.
I will keep in touch with the vet today.
                Today, despite the heavy rain and intermittent snow and cold, my daughter Stephanie and I have been caring for Ro about every hour.  We can do nothing more but get varied fluids into her. She still can get up and walk with a leash to the outdoors, but I don't know how much longer she can go without food.  When Stephanie bought her own home this year, we all made a decision not to move Rosheen, who was always Stephanie's dog, with her.  We thought that Ro would do better staying with Angus and with the dogs she had known all of her life.  In addition, Stephanie lives nearby and is here all the time. I hope we made a good decision.  When a beloved pet is failing, it's easy to second guess onesself.    Prayers for Ro are always appreciated.

UPDATE:  Rosheen passed at 5:15 pm on Friday December 28th, 2012.   No doubt, she was in a hurry to follow her mate and cherished companion of many years, Angus, who passed suddenly following a stroke on December 1st.    Right now, I am very sad, but with time I trust that I will come to realize all the blessings associated with this passing.  I was fortunate enough to be with her. She rested quietly while listening to the radio the entire last day, and she truly knew how much we love her.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Living Through and Past the Holiday

Wise Men Still Seek Him

   To those of us who only remember Earth and do not really know of Heaven, other than what we are taught from scripture or what we read, sometimes the system seems unfair.  We come to Earth and we believe that we are living good lives and that we honor God in our families and in our lives and then something inexplicable happens.  Many times, it seems to us as if Heaven is a greedy place, calling the kindest, the most talented, the dearest, and the most evolved, sometimes long before we would have considered it their time.
                  Of course, when I think about this, I am thinking of my youngest son Daniel, and as much as I understand that God has a purpose and a plan, on days like today, Christmas Day especially, in my simple human flesh suit, I can't understand why he is not here, opening gifts, seeking batteries and trading cash to other siblings for larger bills.
                   There is another family I am thinking of this day.  It has been one year since Ben Breedlove left for Heaven, and I know as evolved and as wonderful as his parents are, that this day must smart for them, just as it does for me.

(Please see my prior post on Ben Breedlove:            )

              This year, a lot of families lost a child just before Christmas.  A few were lost to cardiomyopathy as was Ben.  Some were lost to surmised heart rhythm disturbances like Daniel.  Others were lost to a violent act by someone elses child whose brain was ravaged by a mental illness.   In the end, it doesn't matter why they are not with us.   Daniel,  Ben,  and many other families must brave this Christmas not only without our child this year, but every year until we ourselves pass to Heaven to see them again.
              It's easy to have faith in God and in His plan and in Heaven when all is well.  It becomes much harder when we are challenged by something as truly horrific as the sudden loss of a child.   But then, and only then can we model what we taught our children.  If Daniel looks below and sees me living each day of my life destroyed by his departure, then how committed to the faith I taught to him, could I be ?   Instead, you and I must show our children who glow and dance in Heaven, that we do believe, and that we KNOW we will again be reunited when we too are called.   I must show Daniel that I love him as much as I ever did, and that the love we share is powerful enough to endure through the pearly gates or anywhere else his precious soul travels in the universe, at the direction of our Lord God.
                I must keep my faith, and I must spend the time I have remaining on Earth wisely, as God and Daniel would wish.  I know it seems like a tall order, especially when the loss is so fresh that it feels like an arterial bleed.  But you will.   You will for the sake and memory of that precious child who awaits you  in the morrow, and whose shining personality and joy could not be obscured even by the devastating moment of their death and passing from Earth.

 UPDATE: This is additional information on Ben Breedlove's legacy.

 For our own son Daniel, we had wanted to donate organs and tissues following his passing, but because his cause of death was not known or surmised for a long time, his organs could not be used for others. We are glad Ben and his parent's had this opportunity to donate tissue in order to help others.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Reflections of Christmases Since Loss

When I look back at the last four Christmases, I marvel at how I and our family survived. First in 2008, when Daniel passed so suddenly without clear explanation. We were left celebrating a Christmas for which Daniel had purchased gifts. The following Christmas, 2009, was bewildering also, but somehow we arrived at the conclusion that God not only is real and has a plan, but that he does not make mistakes. Somehow, Daniel's being called in a somewhat supernatural manner was a signal that Daniel was, and is a part of an important and grander plan for both Heaven and for the Earth.  I remember in the depths of my despair in the Christmas season, hearing the song below, and finding that it helped me to understand the miracle, the majesty and the perfection of Christ. Since Daniel came from God, then of course, God could indicate when he was to return to Him. I hope this rendition of this song holds the same needed Christmas magic for you.



You can buy sheet music for this song from this location:

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Difficult Christmas for So Many

(Copyright Danny M Schweers  2002)

   I really didn't know how I could write this post. It's hard enough each year to see past the loss of Daniel, and as Christmas nears, I can't help but recall the early Christmas season when he left us, in a fraction of an instant.
              Yesterday, I made a conscious choice not to listen to the media's coverage of the Newtown, Connecticut school massacre.  I planned to wait until the main media outlets stopped giving premature and inaccurate information before hearing and digesting it all.   Finally, a clearer picture emerged and no less than twenty young children passed in just an instant. Six people, including a principal and a school psychologist put themselves between the gunman and the children, and sacrificed their own lives. The gunman ultimately took his own also.   As I heard this yesterday, I could not help but be transported to an earlier time in which we had been homeschooling Daniel, and on a particular week, he had not completed all the work assigned. I told him the truth, that if he did not complete the work assigned on a consistent basis that the privilege of homeschooling could be withdrawn and he would have to go to public school.  "No !"  he said in horror. "I don't want to get shot !"    This bothered me a lot.  Homeschooling was something we chose to do because our children were excelling and because we have some really amazing activities available locally and with our homeschooling group.  We did not sidestep public education because we thought the chances of getting shot in public school were too great.   I explained to Daniel that steps were taken to improve security in schools and that getting shot there was not a viable reason to avoid public schools, high schools or for that matter, public universities.   Ultimately, Daniel did finish all his work and continued his excellent work as a homeschooler.  Yesterday, I felt so many things as I heard about the shootings.  I felt as if I had lied to Daniel in telling him schools were safe.  Most of all I felt a devastating sorrow for the parents of children whose lives were okay yesterday, and for whom they will never be again.   My journey is four years in, and theirs is just beginning.   I also felt sick for the family of a bright young man who apparently missed cues indicating the depth of his mental illness, who ultimately killed children, school staff and his own mother.
                 The mainstream media missed no time in asking gorgeous moppets how they felt about what they saw at the school. They also moved right along to the agenda of gun control, whereas I think staff at the school should be trained and armed in preparation for Al Qaeda terrorist attacks. Several years ago, intelligence indicated that terrorists were planning to attack schools in the United States.
                 Still, my prayers are with the families who lost loved ones yesterday.  May God stay close to each of them, and may they feel his presence in these very very difficult first days.
                  Let us not forget that no matter what happens here on Earth, that God has our children home safely, and that they are spared this lengthy tribulation that we now face.  Oh, I know it's hard, but I know we each can do it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Christmas Season Loss of a Child

I wanted to share this with all of you. As most of you know, it has been four years since Daniel's sudden and unexpected departure, the day after Thanksgiving, in 2008.  Since they are now playing Christmas music and the temperature outside and the smells of the season are back, I have been having some recollections of the time just after Daniel's funeral.
     Four years ago, in the week after the funeral, I was determined to give our children "a Christmas after all". Daniel had already bought presents for them, and I didn't want to skip Christmas, and so I was out in the village of our county seat shopping. It was part of my quest to keep running for as long as I could, almost as if hoping reality would not catch up with me. I was so brave in the very beginning !  Several women I vaguely knew who had read the paper gave me their condolences, and were very kind.  A woman who was shopping in the store for her grandchildren came over to me, having overheard the other women, who had just left. She had tears and hugged me, and gave me advice about how to be strong.  She told me that at this time of year, her first baby who was then six or seven months old, was found to need a shunt for a developing hydrocephalus. She and her husband were terrified, but this had to be done. Her baby boy died during the procedure of shunt insertion in the operating room. She didn't really know whether it has been related to anesthesia, but today, as a nurse I knew that this is a routine procedure and that a death during such is highly unusual.  She told me that the thinking of her day was to sweep the house of any memories, and so her family came and took the crib, and they all gave away all of the tiny boy's things.  By now, the woman was really sobbing as she related her story.  As fresh as my loss was, my role became comforting this poor woman, whose loss at that moment was just as fresh as my own !  Perhaps she thought she had found someone who would understand a Christmas season loss of a beloved son.
       I learned some things that day from her. In nursing, we are taught that for most, grief takes about a year before it is no longer as acute as it is at the outset.  This woman was sobbing as if her heart was broken.  Her loss of a child had occurred when I was still a child myself ! She had gone on to have other sons and a daughter and to have grandchildren.   I realized then that I would not really ever be "recovering in a year" as taught.  Her loss had changed her, and mine would also change me forever as well, as soon as I began to accept that this had indeed happened.
       She told me that the thinking of her day was to get rid of everything that would generate memories, but that she now believed that was wrong. She told me to hold on to anything I wanted to, that belonged to Daniel.  I have, not so much for Daniel, because he has truly outgrown all the items in his room in the most literal sense of the word, but for the woman who so desperately felt her loss and had regret which was still so bitterly and acutely felt from so long ago, and had been worsened by the loss of items which may have comforted her later.
       That day I learned some truths.  A mother will never forget the loss of a child. She will function, but periodically that sorrow will return, until we are all reunited once again. This is not a failure of grief to resolve, it's a stark cold reality of life.  It's hard to survive the loss of a child, and we should be allowed to do whatever feels right for us.  If that means holding onto the socks from his laundry bin, or holding on to his Pokemon cards, his computer, or his Marvel comics t-shirt, then so be it.
       I often think of the woman in that consignment shop. Meeting her really did free me to practice my grief as was best for me, and then as a natural extension of that, allow others to do the same.  I won't soon forget the endurance of her love for her young son, or the endurance of her grief revisited when the world, and the season again came to rest on the time of year in which he moved on to Heaven.


Joseph's Lullabye                    Performed by:       by Mercy Me

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I Don't Know How Else to Play It

      A friend of mine is a psychologist, and she made an interesting observation this week.   She said that we are "moving forward admirably but that she gets the impression that we are all trying to overcompensate for the vacuum left by Daniel's departure".   I would say that is correct.  She went on to say that sometimes, this can be a good thing.
            Since this is a forum in which I try to honestly look at each aspect of the loss of a child or loved one, I have to say that I don't know any other way of playing this.   If you look at Giada DiLaurentiis who lost a brother, would you attribute some of her success for living for him ?    What about Cindy Crawford who also lost a brother ? Is her success due to succeeding for them both ?  " Weird Al Yankovic" was fairly successful before both of his parents succumbed silently in their sleep to carbon monoxide poisoning.  He continued to be quite successful afterward.    Certainly, living your best possible life and strongly moving forward can be a strategy to surviving the loss of a loved one.  Is it pathologic ?   I don't think so.  I think that expecting us all to go back to the people we were before the loss of Daniel is unrealistic. We are not the same people, and we won't ever be.  Perhaps my feeling Daniel and my father with me and behind me helps me to realize that life is short, perhaps shorter than I had imagined, and that the things we really wish to do, ought to be planned for, and done.  And so we continue,  overcompensating perhaps, but moving forward, nonetheless.

This is Jim Brickman. The vocalist is Kristy Starling, a contemporary Christian Music artist.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

That Old Familiar Ache

     As many of you who follow this blog know, the end of November is the time in which Daniel passed from Earth.  One moment, he was happy and planning to go Christmas shopping, and the next moment, he no longer resided in his warm and pleasant flesh suit.   Immediate CPR and epinephrine injection did not change that, and in our case, when the AED arrived, it didn't either.
               Daniel's departure was now four years ago.  I find that as long as we stay pretty busy, we survive with a minimum of griefbursts.   Daniel would not want us to spend the holidays grieving him, and so we try very hard not to.
                With the new book What I Learned from Daniel out, I have been doing fairly well, until last evening.   Our daughter who now has her own home comes over to visit fairly often to see us, use our lightning fast internet, and to progressively and gradually move some of her more fragile things to her new house.  While she was doing this, she found a paper that Daniel had made for her one year for her birthday.
It said:
                           Happy Birthday Stephanie

                        With love from Daniel     (aka Danny-Pants)  which is what she called him when he was little.

Beneath that he had drawn several animal figures, and they were quite good.

         I don't know that I had ever seen this drawing/card he had made for her before.  Most days, I deal with the fact that our youngest son lives in Heaven, and we are here to finish out the clock.  Seeing this lovingly written paper to his sister with the drawings, made me yearn to see him, hug him and tell him how good the drawings were.  I felt as if I had empty arms.

         Daniel, if you read the blog from your vantage point, the card and the drawings are very good.   Your sister plans to frame it.  She hasn't yet decided whether she will frame it and mount it to stay in her room here, or bring it to the new house.   Since she comes here for holidays etc. I can see the case for putting it up here.   Yes, today I have that old familiar ache.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

We CAN Detect People At Risk for Sudden Cardiac Death

If the word had been out that the children and grandchildren of those with arrhythmic disorders have children and grandchildren at risk for Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome, and they had ordered this test, Daniel could have spent this Christmas with us.

Daniel decorated a tree his eldest brother planted, every year that he was here, which looked very much like this.


Four years ago, when our healthy, comfortable child talked to us, and then walked into the bathroom and collapsed and went into cardiac arrest, and then despite immediate CPR, died, we were told that this could not have been anticipated.  He went on to have a negative autopsy, and it was surmised by several groups of pathologists that although he had no structural abnormalities of his heart seen on autopsy, that a functional one could have existed, and no one would have known.  We were also told that even an EKG might not have indicated the possibility of his sudden death due to a conduction disorder. We were told that our devastating loss was rare.  Over the next four years we found that very little of the above is actually true.
           In actuality, sudden arrhythmic cardiac death is the number one cause of death in children who play sports. (Our son had played a challenging game of soccer the day before)  Children who have relatives, even elderly ones with conduction disorders such as atrial fibrillation, supra ventricular tachycardia, and certainly sudden death in grandparents, cousins and even first degree family members are certainly at risk.  In addition, of those adults and children who experience a sudden arrhythmic episode, the out of hospital survival rate is a paltry EIGHT PERCENT.
            Since then, we have met a number of people who have lost a young spouse, a young adult daughter, a college student, teens who ran track, and many others who lost someone due to exactly the same arrhythmic cause as Daniel.  To us, Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome doesn't seem rare at all.
           Of course, my husband and I since have pushed CPR for everyone since then, and AEDs (Automatic Emergency Defibrillators) since then, in the hope that another family would never have to experience what we have.  The fact is, that Daniel got immediate CPR just after his collapse. He also got one dose of epinephrine, and continued CPR, and then later he received an additional dose of epinephrine from us and an an attempted AED shock from the local sheriffs who are also EMTs when they arrived at our house.  Then, the helicopter ICU from the University of Virginia arrived on the front yard of the farm and delivered Advanced Cardiac Life Support.  All of these things were to no avail. At no time did we see the return of any type of a cardiac rhythm or of respiration or momentary return of consciousness.  In Daniel's case, there was no intervention after the incident itself that appears would have saved him.
             After the loss of Daniel, we were urged to have cardiac rhythm evaluations ourselves, which we did. One of our children went on to have a rather broad cardiac mapping with ablation. The others had EKGs, and cardiac history and physical and an echocardiogram.   Daniel had no abnormalities, why would they ?
Despite evaluations for my husband and myself which were initially negative, I have gone on to have paroxysmal atrial fibrillation myself.
            One of the other pieces of information which was not provided to us at the time of Daniel's passing, is that there IS a test for cardiac arrhythmic sudden death.  It is estimated that 12 million people in the US are at risk for a sudden arrhythmic death.  Yet, in general, only astronauts are checked for this.

            Microvolt T-Wave Alternans is a trademarked name for a type of test which can rule out those patients for whom sudden arrhythmic death is likely.  This allows cardiologists to focus on those for whom this may be a possibility.    This test requires the patient to undergo a low level cardiac stress test and then to have specialized equipment look for an alternating t -wave pattern.    The alternating impedence of the t-wave pattern, as shown below, is a risk indicator for sudden arrhythmic death.

Note the alternating nature of the second pattern
              (Please see: for more information. )

   Without using this particular test, no cardiologist can completely or fully assess the chance of a particular patient experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest secondary to arrhythmia.  Just now, this test is done on astronauts but very few others otherwise, and it has never been done on any of the members of my family, some of whom have simply been medicated in the hopes of mitigating our risk.

      The fact is that this relatively simple test has had FDA approval for 13 years and a reimbursement code (#93025) for six years.  It isn't being used.   Why  not ?

More general information on sudden cardiac arrest in teens:

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

This Year, I Chose to Have a Flu Shot


       It may sound strange, but even as a nurse, I have never had a flu shot.  I arranged for those in my family to have flu shots, if they had a chronic medical issue, and I have arranged for some of them to get a pneumovax vaccine, and a meningococcal vaccine when they reach teen years.  I have some autoimmune issues, and for myself I have come to believe that my immune system will take care of anything that comes its way.  In the past, I have been of the opinion that a flu shot might furthur arm my hyperactive immune system and move it on from a lesser autoimmune dyscrasia to a full blown Lupus.   This may be more emotional reaction on my part, but no physician has challenged me on it, so long as I have kept up on tetanus boosters.
              This year, I was not so sure.  Having had multiple episodes of atrial fibrillation which appear to have been brought on by asthma, it doesn't seem quite so sharp to "take my chances" with the flu.  Some of the colder Midwestern states already have multiple patients hospitalized with influenza this year, when they normally have just one or two at this time, and so this looks like it might be a bad year for influenza.  I tossed this around and finally decided that I would arrange to have an influenza shot.  I went down to our country pharmacist and filled out the paperwork.  I'm not allergic to eggs or any of the vaccine components. I don't take steroids, cancer chemotherapy, and I am not presently ill.  No one in my family is receiving steroids, chemotherapy or anything else.  I signed the paperwork and gave him my insurance card.  Happily, there was no additional money due.  My insurance covered the injection.  I felt him clean the area with an alcohol swab, but I did not feel the injection itself at all.   I felt his swabbing the area again, when he was finished.  I remained another ten or fifteen minutes in the immunization area to make sure I had no allergic reaction.  Then, I went about my day.   A couple of days later, I noticed the area itches a little, and that there is a quarter sized lump where I received this.  This response is within normal limits for this type of injection.
               Funny how Daniel made it all through his life without any flu shots and without anything other than routine immunizations. He didn't have the flu when he passed.  He had dental check-ups but somehow escaped ever having any of his teeth filled.  I don't know whether to lament the experiences he missed while he was here, or to breathe a sigh of relief that his time on Earth was better than it is for so many of us.
              So, I did it. I protected myself as well as I could for this year's predicted influenza.  Please give some thought this year as to whether this is a good year for you to get an influenza shot too.   I have been lucky and had fairly mild flus in the past, for the most part, but influenza does kill people every year, and they are not always people with chronic medical issues.  It takes time for all of us to develop some antibodies in response to the injection, so earlier is better.  Give it some thought.   Although not everyone should get one, many people really should.  If you need one, then get it.  I promise, it's not all that bad.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Goodbye Angus

This is Angus, taken this year

   The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas has been a time in which both people and animals have passed from our lives..  Sadly, this year was no exception.   Angus came to us in 2002, as an elderly thin dog who liked to hide and watch us at our original farm. He was one of many hunting dogs who came to our farm during hunting season, and whose owners never came to find them. Most of the beagles and hounds are tagged with an owner, dog license, microchip or kennel number, and we have called and returned many, many of them over the years.  Angus never had a collar.  He was very skittish and used to watch us, but would not let us get near him.  It took a year of leaving food and then leaving and watching him eat before we were able one day to collar and tie him.  Rabies is endemic in our region, and we can't have an unimmunized dog running around.  Once we caught him and fed him regularly and provided him with a doghouse on the edge of the forest, he seemed happier.  However, his initial response was always to cowar when someone held their hand above his head intended to pet him.  We always believed that Angus had been abused as a hunting dog, and probably didn't want to be found by the original owner.  We were very surprised when we took Angus to the vet for a check up, a rabies shot a heartworm test and some immunizations, when the vet told us that she thought he was very old. She told us that she believed him to be about 14. She thought that if we gave him the good care we provide to all our other dogs and animals that he could live another several years, and that the end of his life would be spent securely and happily.  We were happy to care for this small and gentle dog.
                 Time passed, and we moved to a new farm taking all of our animals with us.  Angus adjusted, in part because he had Rosheen as a kennel mate.   Rosheen  (Irish Gaelic spelling is Roisin)  is a Jack Russell Terrier who enjoyed keeping company with Angus.    Over time,  my parents passed, Daniel passed, Daniel's elderly large dogs Jake and Mark passed. Chickens and roosters passed, but Angus remained.  The vet would check him each year and tell us that she didn't think he would make it through the Winter.  In 2009, we build a really lovely kennel for all the dogs which had separate kennel rooms for all of them, and a fenced enclosure for them outside.   Ro and Angus shared a kennel room.
                  Although Angus had always been skittish, he did recover from his prior abuse somewhat. When we would pat him, he would at first cowar, and then remember that we wouldn't hit him and that he was safe to allow us to pet him. A couple of years ago, he developed a new problem.   At night, he would tear apart in the inside of his kennel room, knock over the food dish, and sometimes even the water bucket.  He would growl and bark at things that did not seem to be there. This behavior prompted a post on my other blog concerning canine dementia.   The vet said that there is a medication which is sometimes of assistance in canine dementia but she wondered if this truly ancient dog could detoxify such a thing. We decided to continue to love and cherish him, and keep him with Rosheen in order not to make changes in his world which would lead to furthur disorientation. The vet said that this was not surprising, since he is after all, 24 years old by her estimation.  He continued to recognize us and although he was slim, he still had a hearty appetite. We continued rabies shots every three years, and heartworm and worm prevention.
                   The last three weeks we knew that he was nearing the end of his life.  He would look for places to hide in the kennel and outside it. We could comfort him, but he was up all night, and slept during the day. Once, I couldn't wake him easily and wondered if he were dead.  Almost deaf now, he was still jumping and happy when he saw us, and he never turned down a small milkbone dog biscuit. As with all the elderly dogs, we put a coat on them at night, to keep them comfortable when the temperature drops.

Sweet Angus really enjoyed the snow.  He also liked to eat some of it.

                   This morning my husband called me as soon as he went out to feed dogs.  Angus was in the fenced enclosure outside his kennel.  He still had his coat on, but it was muddy, and he seemed disoriented.  By the time I got down there, he had a grand mal seizure, likely the first he had ever had.  We promptly put him on a transport board with a chux on it, covered him with a blanket and moved him down to the heated barn room which functions as our animal ICU.   The seizure ended and he seemed calm, as most post-ictal creatures are.  However, he could not move normally.  We believe him to have had a massive stroke over night.   Unlike human beings, dogs can recover from somewhat severe strokes. Dogs don't have to drive cars or write checks, and so they don't need to relearn some of the complex things that we do.  I have had several who have had strokes, and following some good care and a recovery period, they have lived several years afterward.  However, if Angus is as old as the vet suspects, then the kindest thing probably would be to allow him to pass. Initially is heart rate and breathing were regular, and I sat with him as he lay in a nice warm bed with a soft blanket over him.  Then, as the morning went by, the respirations changed. Although they were regular, they were occurring less often. The distance between each respiration lengthened and I knew that today would be the day he would leave us.  Even though he likely could not hear us, we played soft Christmas music in the barn. I told him how much we had enjoyed having him at the farm and that we would see him again.  We told him that he owed us nothing, and could pass on to Jesus, and to Daniel and that he would again see the other dogs that he knew as part of our farm.  Angus passed with one more deep expiration at 11:51 am.   He is the only one of our dogs whose picture appears in my book Rational Preparedness (p.65 for those of you who have it.)   He will be missed by both the animals on the farm, and also by the human beings.  So long, sweet Angus, thank you for coming !

This is the link to the earlier post on canine dementia from my other blog Rational Preparedness: The Blog which concerns Angus:

Interestingly, this is the second pet I have had who passed during the playing of this song. Susan, our 14 year old golden retriever/cocker spanel passed during this song as it softly played in 2006.