Merry Christmas (2010)

Filed in Dogs of our Lives, General, The Empress of China 中國皇后號 (2011), WorkTags: ,

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, spending time with family and friends.

For us, it wasn't a merry Christmas, having lost Beethoven only less than three weeks ago. Having just lost someone special, the joyfulness of the season only accentuates the sorrow. Between Beethoven and a busy rehearsal schedule for the new The Empress of China play, there were no decorations at home, no Christmas tree, and strangely no gifts either. (Sadly, my sister in Australia is mourning the recent loss of two of their 'kids'; one to kidney failure, the other to insect sting complications. I feel for her.)

But it wasn't a total loss. For the first time in a month, I had two and a half days free to spend with my family and we made the most of it. Today, we even took nine of our kids up the (smallish) mountain beside our village here in Clear Water Bay which we haven't done in three or four years. One or two of the kids will be in arthritic discomfort tomorrow, but with pain relief and exercise management, they'll be fine. They loved the walk and that's what counts.

Beethoven's departure reminded us that the kids' time with us is a limited luxury, something that needs to be treasured. His departure also reminded us that we need to take more photos and movies, and that's what we did today; at least until the camera battery ran out of juice!

For most people here in Hong Kong, tomorrow is a public holiday. For me however, it's back to work. With only three weeks until our play goes live at City Hall in Central, we have to make the most of the time we have, to be the best we can.

Once again, Merry Christmas everyone.

Goodbye dear friend

Filed in Dogs of our Lives, GeneralTags: ,

My best friend has left us.

Yesterday while working in China, my wife called from the hospital to say that Beethoven was in a very bad way, and that he might not last much longer. Fortunately, our work in China had to stop earlier than planned, and I rushed back to Hong Kong to the hospital in Mong Kok.

Beethoven looked restful and relatively calm when I saw him. The hospital had increased his pain relief and he was feeling better. My wife had stayed with him all day and was extremely exhausted. I suggested that she return home while I stayed with Beethoven through the night. At the time, I felt he still had a chance of recovery.

For almost two hours, I lied on the floor next to him, looking into his eyes and reassuring him. His breathing was calm and relatively normal. It was a companionship, an experience that I'll treasure. But then at around 2:30 in the morning, he became restless and began complaining about pain again. The pain became so intolerable that without regard for his weak state, he stood up and vocalised his fear and distress, understanding that his condition was very very dire. I held him and tried to calm him while asking the doctor to increase his pain relief, but while the doctor was injecting more pain relief and a sedative to relax him, he suddenly had a heart attack and was no longer with us. The pain had simply been too much for him. He died at 3am.

I now know a lot about pancreatitis. I wish I didn't, but I do. Reflecting in the early hours this morning after saying our goodbyes, my wife and I came to realise that Beethoven may have been suffering from mild chronic pancreatitis for several months. But if vets find it difficult to spot and diagnose acute pancreatitis, how could normal people like ourselves diagnose mild chronic pancreatitis? It's an unfortunate calamity and I keep wishing that I could roll back time and make things right.

When Beethoven was a pup, he belonged to a neighbour. For whatever reason though, he chose to visit us daily and be with us. He chose us, and for that, I'll be eternally grateful. He was a wonderful friend and I'll never forget him.

R.I.P. 貝多芬.


(A very big 'thank you' to the doctors and staff at the Pets Central clinic in Mong Kok. You people were absolutely wonderful.)

Babysitting Beethoven

Filed in Dogs of our Lives, GeneralTags:

I'm feeling very tired.

Monday night, I took Beethoven to the 24-hour vet clinic in Mong Kok at one in the morning. I didn't get much sleep that night.

Yesterday before lunch, I was able to bring Beethoven home. He hadn't recovered fully but he seemed chirpier than the night before. The saline drip had definitely helped him. Unfortunately, he was still weak and refused to eat or drink. Last night, I watched him carefully, considering every minute whether to take him back to the hospital. His breathing was heavy and a little quick. I didn't get much sleep last night either.

Around midday today, I recorded Beethoven's breathing at home and showed the video to our friendly vet in Sai Kung. He indicated that the laboured breathing was not a good sign, and we rushed home to take Beethoven back to the hospital.

He's there now. We spent a few hours with him there after the drip had been reattached, and watched him perk up quite a bit as his breathing slowly improved. Unfortunately, he's not out of the woods yet. We need to find out why he's sick before it kills him. Tonight, the hospital will be doing an ultrasound on his lower body to check his organs. They'll call me to tell me whether they find anything. I'm hoping that they find something that can be fixed. That'd be nice, but we have to wait and see.

To complicate things, I begin full-day rehearsals tomorrow morning for the upcoming bi-lingual play 「中國皇后號」 performed by the H.K.R.E.P. Since my wife and I won't be home during the day for the rest of the week, we've decided that Beethoven is going to stay on a drip in the hospital to keep him stable until we know more about his condition, or until he begins to eat again.

But his condition worries me a lot. When dogs get sick, they can leave us very very quickly. I'll be visiting Beethoven at the hospital tomorrow morning before I head off to rehearsals in Sheung Wan. Hopefully, he'll look better. We can only hope...