The Good People of Albuquerque

When times get tough, the kind of people you have around you matter. Especially when they are mostly strangers. And the good people of Albuquerque provided much needed support during some difficult situations.

A lot has happened after our brief respite in beautiful Taos. Island Girl is fine, but Angel is sick.  I wish it were the reverse.

During our time in Taos, we found out that most of the parts for Island Girl’s repair had arrived at Camping World. And the last and most important part, the fiberglass roof, was scheduled to arrive the following Wednesday. So we developed the perfect plan. We left Taos for Albuquerque on Monday and parked outside Camping World that night.abq  035 (1)

ABQ  012First thing Tuesday morning we delivered Island Girl to the service department. We wanted them to complete the demolition in order to begin the installation work right after the roof arrived on the next day. There was a chance of our getting Island Girl back late Friday, so I booked a bed and breakfast.

"VFMLID=58629185"Since Angel’s urinary tract infection was causing her to have pee accidents, I found a nice Bed and Breakfast that had a room with a doggie door to a fenced patio. Lovely.  We’d never had a doggie door, but Angel quickly learned the ropes. And she loved her little patio.

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Then on Wednesday, Camping World called with bad news – the roof they received had a crack and was unusable.  They needed to order another one. And it had to come via truck from Oregon.

With no roof, we couldn’t stay in Island Girl.  Oops.

lqUnfortunately the B and B was not available and I couldn’t find another like it. But the good news was that there are a lot of hotels that allow dogs in town. We found a La Quinta that had just been renovated and was in a pretty good location. And Angel had been on antibiotics a few days and was now able to go the night without an accident.

Russ and Jennifer at Camping World

Russ the Service Manager and Jennifer our advisor at Camping World took good care of us

Camping World expedited the roof to arrive in a few days instead of the usual two weeks. It was scheduled to arrive the following Tuesday or Wednesday. We weren’t pleased to spend all that time in a hotel but I have to say that Camping World was communicative and supportive and treated us in that special way that made us feel that they really cared.

We entertained ourselves by doing some house hunting, just to figure out what kind of house we might be able to afford in Albuquerque. And we saw a couple of lovely homes that we would have been happy to buy.

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Angel traveled around with us in the car, and we spent a lot of time at the dog park.

And we visited with our hilarious and dear friends Sharon and Norman who gave us lots of insight into Albuquerque and surrounds.

Meanwhile, Angel finished her antibiotics and we took her in for more tests. The calcium in her blood was still high, and she still had an infection. Something else was going on.

Our new roof arrived on Wednesday undamaged. And Camping World confirmed that we’d have Island Girl back on Friday.

Rueben the master mechanic

Rueben the master mechanic

We picked up Island Girl with her new hat on Friday, she looked lovely.   She had a new fiberglass roof, new main awning, new 140-watt trickle charge solar panel, new skylight, new a/c shrouds, three new slide toppers and new seals on everything. It was a > $10,000 repair and all was covered by our insurance.  Yay!

After ten nights in hotels, we were all three happy to be home again. And we stayed in Albuquerque another week to check all systems on Island Girl, and take Angel back to the veterinarian.


Dr. Russman – photo courtesy of VCA

vcaAngel had more tests done at the VCA.  Dr. Russman was very nice and followed-up consistently to check on Angel’s progress. But when we checked around we discovered that the VCA charged between 50% and 66% higher for several of those tests than some other veterinarians, including our own in Denver.  So we decided to take her to a different veterinarian.  He had been recommended by our veterinarian earlier in the month but hadn’t been available at that time.  But we weren’t willing nor able to continue paying exorbitant fees for more tests and Dr. Russman understood.

The new veterinarian, Dr. Riegger, started an abdominal ultrasound but had to cut it short because Angel was crying apparently due to pain in her hips/back. She has had arthritis for a while but it had gotten much worse than we realized.  We took her back the next day and they sedated her in order to complete the ultrasound.  They also took x-rays of her back and hips to get a better understanding of why she was having pain.NorthwestAnimalClinicAndHospital

ABQ  032It was bad news. Angel has masses in her bladder, very likely cancer. She also has a condition called caudia equina syndrome – the nerve roots in her lower spine are compressed causing severe back pain – a progression of her arthritis.  We are devastated by the news.

After the ultrasound she could not walk all night nor the morning after. It was frightening and we took her back in to Dr. Riegger. By the time we arrived she was walking and doing much better.  Apparently she was recovering a bit slowly from soreness caused by the previous day’s tests.  After all, she is over 12 years old.

The dedicated Dr Michale Riegger DVM

The dedicated Dr. Michael Riegger

Dr. Riegger finally could see us at 6:30. He calmly reviewed options once more with us and wrote everything up. When we discussed surgery, he mentioned that he usually sleeps at the practice after performing surgery, apparently quite often. I’d never heard of a veterinarian doing this. Dr. Riegger is someone who has found his calling. He was very thoughtful and caring like so many people we encountered in Albuquerque.

But after seeing Angel’s tough recovery from a simple ultrasound and x-rays, we want to avoid any procedures that will aggravate her back pain.

abq  036So Angel is on pain meds for her back issue and on antibiotics for the infection and is doing much better. We’ve moved on to Tucson, where we got a second opinion from an oncologist, who says there is a 90+% chance that what Angel has is cancer but we have opted not to do a biopsy.  After reviewing a few other options for treatment we chose a non-invasive treatment plan that should “improve symptoms and prolong survival time”.

While here in Tucson, I found an old clipping with New Year’s wishes that was very timely as we deal with the news about Angel. It said:

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive

I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final goodbye

Take time to live

We don’t know how much longer Angel is going to be with us.   For now she seems happy and herself again and we will continue doing all we can for her as long as she has good quality of life.

abq  037And we really appreciate all warm wishes and support we’ve received from so many.  Thank you.

We are so grateful for having found Angel, for sharing our journey with her and for the rest of the time that she will be with us.  And the three of us will continue to take time to live.

~ Brenda

42 thoughts on “The Good People of Albuquerque

  1. I do hope the old gal (Angel) has a couple of more fun years in her. I know she’s loving the lifestyle as much as her parents. Sending well wishes to a very special gal 🙂

    • Thank you, Ingrid. I’m afraid the outlook isn’t that good, it’s less than a year. But you never know, she’s a pretty fierce girl.

  2. So sorry to hear about Angel’s challenges. How fortunate she is to have you to care for her. And how fortunate you are to have her love. Wishing you all the best.

  3. Reading about Angel’s troubles brought tears to my eyes. I know very well what it is like to have a sick older pup. We went through a very similar situation with our Phineas, and because of his age decided not go through with a biopsy or surgery. Those decisions are so tough when they get old. You just have to trust that you are doing all you can for her. Thinking of you and Hector during this difficult time and sending hugs to Angel.

    • Oh, Amanda, so sorry to open old wounds. I know you understand and I really appreciate it. We definitely struggled with the decisions. I still have moments when I think we should do chemo, but it would only extend her life a few months so we’ve chosen not to do that either. She’s looking cheery and perky right now, though, so that makes us happy. Will be sure to give her your hugs.

  4. We are soooo sad… We’ve known Angel as part of your family since she arrived… Such a vital role our pets play in our lives — they are family! We are sorry for Angel’s illness and discomfort, and are so very happy for the many years and experiences the three of you have shared, especially those shared with us! Giving thanks these holidays for you and your friendship. Peace and Godspeed, Friends. xo

    • Thank you, Jean. It’s especially hard since she’s been our constant companion since we left Denver. But she looks happy and relaxed right now, so we are grateful for that. And we are very thankful for your friendship as well.
      Hugs to all,

  5. Hi Guys, glad that Angel is doing a bit better and pray that she continues doing so. Cuz we miss you guys…and loved the poem. We should all remember that without sadness we cannot appreciate happiness…:)

    Love you guys,

    • Hi, Ana Maria. Angel is actually looking very perky, the fierce girl. Miss you too, you guys need to come out and meet us sometime.

  6. Our hearts are with you both! I know first hand how difficult it us to see our pets in pain. I’m so very sorry about the diagnosis. At least Angel is stabilized for the moment so you get some good quality time with each other. We’ll be thinking of you all!


    • Thanks, Nina. I appreciate all of your support. She’s doing fine right now, and we’re making sure she’s thoroughly spoiled.

  7. Angel is a wonderful friend and I know she appreciates all your travels and explorations, as well and the great care you have given her.
    Certainly NOT the typical “dog’s life!” more like a treasured guest in a mobile Lopezian Village! Take good care of her and each other!

    • She definitely hasn’t had the typical dog’s life. We’re all taking really good care of each other and are going to take it easy the next few months. Enjoy Thanksgiving and give Sharon a hug for us!

  8. Oh Brenda… I’m crying as I write this and our hearts go out to you and Hector. Please keep us abreast of her (Angels) progress as you move forward…. it’s hard to see them in pain…will be thinking of you guys,


    • Thank you so much. Angel is actually happy and alert right now, she’s a pretty fierce girl. I don’t think she realizes how sick she is yet. But we are spoiling her terribly and hope to have her around a while longer. I’ll definitely keep writing about her and how she’s doing.

  9. So sorry to hear about your beautiful Angel.Henry’s cousin lives in Tucson. She is a very special lady whom I would love you to meet while you are there. If you are interested, e-mail me and I will send you her contact information. Sending thoughts from fellow pet lovers in the east. Margo & Henry

    • Thank you, Margo. She’s doing well right now and we hope that lasts for awhile. We’d love to meet Henry’s cousin. We’re leaving Tucson next week (after our Thanksgiving) but plan to return in December, so if she’s around we can plan something in advance. I’ll send you a separate e-mail. Thanks again for all of your positive thoughts.

  10. So very sad to hear about your sweet Angel — it hits close to home because we just lost our beloved kitty last week. We take great comfort in knowing that we spent the last year and a half traveling with Spotty, and that she had such a grand adventure at age 18. Here’s to enjoying each precious day with Angel. You’re so right, it’s the loving kindness of those around us that helps to ease the pain.

    • Oh, so sorry about Spotty. But so wonderful that he made it to 18 and then got to travel. We are definitely going to spoil Angel more than ever, and are happy to say that she’s doing very well right now. Everyone has been wonderful to us, and for that we are truly grateful.

  11. Neck scratches and hugs (for Angel!) from Spencer and me.
    Oh my, what a nice shiny new roof you have!!

    Vince and Spencer

  12. Brenda and Hector,
    So grateful Angel is doing better. I think about you all every day, sending good vibes for the best, and I’m hopeful that everything will be okay. I love the sentiment, take time to live. Thank you very much for sharing. That thought brought to mind, take time to love, too, which as you both know, has been a gift in my life, even though it’s been challenging. So in the spirit of thankfulness, thank you for reminding me to also take time to love.
    Love you guys…please give Angel my warmth and love, too,

    • Thank you, Rebecca. Will be sure to give Angel warmth and love from you – she is getting lots of extra hugs and love.

  13. There are tears in my eyes as I read about your beautiful Angel. She and you will be in my prayers.
    A Dog Lover from Virginia

    • Thank you so much. Dogs have brought so much joy to our lives, but it’s always so hard to let go. Angel is doing well right now, she even ran with her dad yesterday (she instigated it), so I know that she’s still joyful as well.

  14. This brought tears to my eyes and a pain in my heart remembering the last year of my Xaxu’s life. I admire your positive focus on the joyful days ahead. May they be many.

    • Oh, so sorry to bring back that pain. It never really goes away, does it. Angel is pretty spunky right now, she doesn’t know she has cancer, which is a good thing. I too am hopeful for many more days. Thank you, Linda.

  15. I’m sorry I got as far as “started an abdominal ultrasound but had to cut it short because Angel was crying apparently due to pain in her hips/back” and I could not would not and will not read further in case it is news I don’t want to hear…
    So my wish is I hope all is well with Angel and glad the roof and RV is fixed… but my love for animals just will not allow me to “like” this post or read further… hope and pray all is well … sorry I’m not called Bulldog for no reason…

    • Bulldog, I’ll give you the good news only then. Angel has recuperated from the discomfort and pain after the tests, is on meds and doing very well right now. She even jumps around occasionally (she is an old girl though) and yesterday she took her dad for a brief run in the campground. We are enjoying our time with her, as always. Animal lovers are the best!

  16. We met last January in Quartzsite at the “Nina and Paul” meet and greet and again in Boreggo Springs. I am very sorry to hear about your dog Angel. You will all be in my thoughts.

    • Hi, Caroline. Yes, we remember you. Thank you so much for your concern and thoughts. Angel is doing well for the time being, we hope she will be going to Quartzsite and Borrego Springs with us again in January. Maybe we’ll see you there again.
      Safe travels,

      • We will be heading out of Austin the first part of December and plan to see the area around Yuma before heading up to Quartzite. Hope to see many fellow RVers this winter.

  17. I’m sorry I’m so late to see your post. I’ve been thinking about you guys since our last email exchange. My heart is heavy for you guys. Big hugs to you all. xoxo

    • That’s okay, Leigh. Thanks for the hugs. Angel is doing fine right now, looking forward to seeing Curtis again 🙂

  18. We are so very sorry to hear the news about Angel. It is so difficult to know just how much to do for our older pets. It sounds like you are doing enough to keep her comfortable and give all three of you some quality time together. Glad to hear that Island Girl is back in your hands and that insurance covered the repairs.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

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