My beautiful tiny princess (and the blog she inspires)

My baby princess
I love you, tiny angel
Best friends forever

I love my beautiful tiny princess. At 15-ish, Bangsiri may be older than Snoopy was when he lived with us. I wonder how long he might have lived if I’d known then what I know now?

In the spring or summer of 2008 Bangsiri was X-rayed and found to have an enlarged heart, but I didn’t start her on medication until a year later—after Snoopy died. I didn’t know if it would do any good, and I didn’t know whether to trust vets who would inevitably be biased in favour of medication. But after Snoopy died, I went along with the vet’s recommended treatment for Bangsiri despite serious doubts that it was really helping.

I believe now that Dr. Hyun, Korea’s top dog cardiologist, has made a big difference for Bangsiri and has given us more years together, but I still have many questions and I can’t help feeling that my beautiful princess is slowing down. There were some nights last winter when I shot videos of her hyperventilating or struggling to breathe and sent them to Dr. Hyun via KakaoTalk. I thought she might need to be rushed to the hospital, but it turned out that she was having symptoms of back pain.

Bangsiri got good results at her last checkup, and with medication she’s is still in stage 2 heart failure. Dr. Hyun has told me it is very unusual for a dog to go back to stage 2 after entering stage 3.

“Because of your love,” he once said, but I couldn’t tell if he was joking. It’s frustrating because I’d really like to know—has Bangsiri’s condition improved because of something I’m doing right, or am I lucky to have her with me in spite of having done everything wrong?

Anyway, I took down some of my earlier Bangsiri updates because they felt redundant: there haven’t been any major changes in her condition, but her weight and appetite fluctuate. Her mobility is better on some days, worse on others. Her chronic cough comes and goes. She often shows signs of back pain, but not the severe pain she had in April 2014—or a year ago, when she had to be hospitalized with a life-threatening pressure sore.   

Since 2011 Bangsiri has taken her heart medicine in veggie (fake gelatin) capsules hidden in peanut butter—most of the time. When she was in a picky phase, cat food used to be my last resort. When she’s in a super-picky phase, I have to ask a vet to use a syringe to squirt it into her mouth because I can’t do it myself. If I try, she struggles and moves her head around so much that I’m afraid of hurting her.

Around Christmas 2014, she rejected her medicine so many times that I gave up trying. I switched from peanut butter to sweet potato and pumpkin and sometimes they worked, but not reliably. I resigned myself to using cat food, but she started rejecting that too.

I took her to a 24-hour vet clinic many times over the next few months because I couldn’t medicate her myself. On a few occasions I misjudged the situation and offered her cat food, thinking she would take it, only to have her miss her dose. She’d spit the capsules out, and keep spitting them out until the fake gelatin dissolved and she could taste the bitter powder. It became so frustrating that I decided to go to the clinic and ask for help every day, twice a day, even though it used to take an hour to get there and back on public transit when we lived at our old place.

Now she usually takes her medicine in a caramel biscuit spread from Belgium labeled “suitable for vegans.” But there are times when I still need to ask for help, and being across the street from a 24-hour clinic has taken a huge weight off my mind. I’ve come to realize that wherever fate takes us after the end of this work contract—maybe to a different part of Seoul, maybe to a different part of the country?—close access to a 24-hour clinic is going to be a non-negotiable condition of any living arrangement.

This blog is undergoing changes as well and will no longer be focused solely on Bangsiri and her sisters because it’s impractical for me to maintain more than one blog. I want an ad-free site, so I’m not willing to use the free WordPress platform, but I’m also not willing to pay the extortionate prices that a certain hosting company wanted to charge me—essentially for no-frills service. So I will be using Beautiful Tiny Princess as a general personal blog for the foreseeable future, with Bangsiri and her sisters providing constant love and inspiration.

Parts of this entry have been recycled from posts written earlier in 2015.

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