Archive for April, 2010

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New on Etsy

April 26, 2010

As I’ve been sitting next to Whitey the past couple days, I’ve spent some time making some new necklaces to list on Etsy. Please take a look — all proceeds benefit the rescue.

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This kind of thing happens around here as well.

April 26, 2010

Article on coyote hunting.

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Waiting

April 25, 2010

Somebody on GT a couple weeks ago said that when you adopt a dog, it’s like waiting to be hit in the gut with a baseball bat. You know that the blow is going to come. You can’t do anything to stop it. All you can do is wait for it. That sounds just about right to me. And then you put your name on the list to do it all over again. What comes before the blow makes it all worthwhile.

I know my Little White is dying. I know that at this point, the cancer is everywhere in his little body. The other front leg, his spine, and his lungs, and probably other places too. His spirit is still strong but his body can’t keep up with him anymore.

It’s awful and amazing to watch him. Two weeks ago today, we thought we would be saying goodbye to him the next day. But he bounced back, the little trooper. He spent most of the past 2 weeks behaving as though nothing was wrong with him. I laughed and cried each time he would come running in from the yard, sometimes faster than our young 4-leggeds. I watched him stand in the sun, ears up and alert, surveying everything that only recently became his. I love his attitude, his spunk, his toughness, his will. And I hate the cancer that is taking that life from him and from me.

His determination makes it hard to know when to let him go. Any other dog (let alone any person) would have quit by now, but not Whitey. Sometimes I wonder whether I am letting him go a day too long (and if you’ve ever let a loved one go a day to late, you know that the day haunts you). But each time I’ve been convinced that he’s just got to be too sick to go on, then he rallies and perks up and goes about his business.

This time, though, I think we are almost there. He’s been coughing the past few days, and everyone touched by osteo knows just what that means. And I think it is making him tired. He has lost some weight. On the other hand, his appetite is still there; he is still alert; he still gets up and hops around outside for potty time; still bops things with his nose and checks out the other dogs. He just kills me.

I’m waiting for him to tell me that he is too tired. I don’t want to take away any days when he clearly wants all the days he can get. So I keep waiting to see if tomorrow will bring a better day, or if tomorrow will bring the day he wants to tell me goodbye.

He’s resting comfortably now on his bed, not coughing, twitching his little front foot and puffing his cheeks out a bit as he breathes. And I’m sitting here by him listening.

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Hannah has been found!

April 23, 2010

Thanks to anyone who helped in the search for her! She is on her way to the vet but seems fine, although covered in ticks.

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Lost Dog

April 20, 2010

If anyone can help, Hannah needs you. Right click on the image to save and print the flyer, or drive around the area to search. She has been out a long time, but we are still getting sightings so she is alive. Just need to bring the poor girl in.

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Day by day

April 17, 2010

I haven’t updated in a while….I’ve just been focusing on Whitey. It has been really up and down. Last week he was great – running and digging as you saw in the photos. He seemed FINE, like there was nothing at all wrong with him except the missing leg.

Then on Sunday he crashed. He felt crappy all day Sunday, barely got out of bed but couldn’t get comfortable. Kept whining and crying, and his eyes were watering – it was breaking my heart. We called Dr M at home and she told us to bring him in right away in the morning. His front leg was swollen and I was afraid he had fractured it. By late in the evening he could hardly stand up on his own. He was up most of the night on Sunday, and I was up with him worrying. I honestly thought we were bringing him in on Monday to say goodbye to him. As morning got closer, I told him how much I loved him and asked him what he wanted me to do.

And on Monday, he was a little better. He gave a little tail wag to go in the car, and was able to jump in by himself. We took him (and Apollo) to see Dr M, and she made a “van call” so he wouldn’t have to get out of his bed in the van. But when he saw her, he perked up his ears and waited to be let out. And Dr M said that she didn’t think it was time.

So we added another pain med that I had previously been reluctant to try (Tramadol) because of some of my other hounds’ reactions to it. We had previously been using only Deramaxx and Gabapentin. We added naltrexone, a somewhat experimental off-label use for it, but decided to give it a go. And she gave me some DMSO gel to use for the swelling on his front leg, which was also starting to show up on his rear legs. With him feeling as alert and responsive as he was, we wanted to see whether he could bounce back again.

I talked to someone else on Greytalk that night, and they mentioned giving their own greyhound Lasix for the leg swelling, so I had Dr M call me in some of that as well, and added it to the pile. In case anyone is keeping count, this is his list of meds: The metronomic protocol (doxycycline, cyclophosphamide, alendronate, and deramaxx), artemisinin, gabapentin, naltrexone, lasix, a multivitamin, and DMSO (the topical anti-inflammatory). I think that’s everything…

He was tired after the vet trip on Monday, and I worried that we had made the wrong choice for him. Worried that we were pushing him a day too long. But I still didn’t feel from him that he was ready to go. By Monday night the swelling in his legs – all 3 – looked really bad, and I was convinced that he actually had hypertrophic osteoarthropathy (even though no lung metastasis has been visible so far). I thought we’d be losing him any day, even though the new medication cocktail was enabling him to rest comfortably by then.

And then, he started to get a little better. We had another vet appointment on Thursday (yesterday) for Apollo to have his incision rechecked, so Whitey came along. Dr M noticed immediately that the swelling in his rear legs was down, and even his front leg looked a little better. His attitude was good. But she thought he was starting to show some neurological effects from the spinal tumor, and moving one of his rear legs strangely when he walked. She warned me that we don’t have much time, which I know, and told me to make the most of this coming weekend with him.

Today, Friday, Whitey had the best day he has had in the past week. He popped up this morning and did his trademarked head-toss/tail-wag/bark routine to go outside. He trotted around, ran a short ways, explored the yard before he was done. He seemed happy, lots of wags.

The girls wanted to eat dinner outside in the back yard tonight, so Whitey and Apollo came out with us to the “big yard” where dogs don’t normally go. Whitey took off for the far corner of the yard. I didn’t have my video camera, but I had my regular camera which can shoot a little video, and I got this blurry video (shot from far away on zoom) that I will post below of him bopping around. I’ll also post the video of Apollo going bananas – he loves the “big yard.”

I took a bunch of photos today, since I never know if this is our last really good day. But I hope it’s not. He amazes me. I’ve seen the rads. I know how much pain he just has to be in, but his attitude is unbelievable. He’s just not ready to leave yet. I’m pretty sure he’ll tell me when he is. But right now we are taking it day by day and I am glad for today. He ate a good dinner tonight and then moved on to finish off Apollo’s (I think Apollo was too exhausted from playing to be very interested). He’s just such a good boy.

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Pretty Boys

April 8, 2010

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Dig that Whitey

April 8, 2010

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Personal Ad

April 7, 2010
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Whitey

April 6, 2010

Our poor Small White.  It has been an up-and-down (but mostly down) few days.  Here’s the chain of events…

Last Tuesday I took him for chemo (his second to last scheduled treatment) where he did just fine.  But Dr M and I both thought his wrist looked a little big so we xrayed it.  The xray had no obvious problem, and it was the joint that seemed swollen, so we let it go at that.  But Dr M thought he seemed sore in his back and rear legs, which we attributed to how active he is on 3 legs and having to compensate, so she sent us to the chiropractic/acupuncture vet.

I went to that vet (whose 1st name also begins with M, so I’m calling her by her last initial – Dr A) on Friday.  They had sent his rads over there.  So Dr A walks into the room with the rads under her arm and says to me, “So, you’ve seen these?”  Yes.  “So you already know what’s going on in his lungs?”  What??

In her opinion, he had lung mets.  Dr M had said his last chest rads from early March looked clear.  Sigh.  So, we agreed to have another vet in the practice take a look, and in the meantime she went to look at his wrist.  She looked at the rads, pushed on his arm, and yelp!  He was painful over his ulna, not just the joint.  If you know that, and then you look at the rads, you can see very faintly that there probably is a bit of lysis starting there in the distal ulna.  Cancer.

Moving on to his back….She did some chiropractic adjustment and a little acupuncture in his hips, also believing that he was sore back there from compensating for one missing front leg and one sore one.  The other vet, Dr G, came in to look at the rads when we were done.  She agreed that there was cancer in the leg, but could go either way on the lungs.

So, we left with bad news.  If it were just in the lungs, we probably would have more time.  But in the leg, the pain will get hard to manage pretty quickly.

Over the weekend, I got on Circle of Grey and Greytalk to ask for advice.  I heard from some nice people whose dogs had dealt with bone metastasis and still lived happily a while longer, in one case the dog was still going 9 months later.  I put my fighting gloves back on and started researching.  I compiled a big list of questions about palliative radiation, carboplatin chemo, intravenous pamidronate, naltrexone, the metronomic protocol – you name it.  I was starting to feel hopeful that we could get some more good time with him.

Yesterday (Monday), I took Whitey, Apollo, and Whitey’s rads back up to Dr M.  We looked at his pre-surgery chest rads, and there is no significant change from then to now.  He started out with some mineralization there from “old dog lungs,” and that’s still what you see on the rads.  So it’s not in his lungs.  But it’s definitely in the leg.

Okay.  So Dr M and I had a long talk about what course of action to follow.  We decided that I would have a consult at the U of MN to discuss radiation.  But then…she started feeling his back.  He was not feeling any better after the chiro/acupuncture.  She came to a spot on his lower back that seemed painful, and the pain seemed to be over the bone.  She called in yet another vet (Dr P – the clinic owner and an orthopedic specialist) to feel it, and Dr P said it could go either way.  So back to the xray.

Poor little White is not a fan of doing radiographs.  He laid there on the table and shook, and made me feel just awful.  But we had to know.  So we took rads of the spine.  Dr M came out and I knew by the look on her face.  She held it up to the ceiling light, and even in that light I could see that one of his vertebrae was just destroyed.  When all the vet techs start hugging you and patting you on the back, that is never a good sign.

So there’s nothing to be done.  Radiation is not an option at this point.  Nothing much is.  We’re going to do the metronomic protocol for what it’s worth, and I’m going to keep up the Artemisinin and add naltrexone just for the hell of it.  But mostly we’re going for pain control, for as long as it’s feasible.

Whitey, for his part, is amazing.  He ran in the yard today.  With cancer in his (one) wrist, and in his spine, I don’t even see how he can stand up.  But he wags his tail, barks at me to kick the other dogs out of his spot, and is himself.  I am grateful that he still feels as good as he seems to.  His gait is very “off” so I know that he is in some pain, but his attitude is astounding.  He seems happy.  And as long as he’s happy, we’ll do what we can for him.

I do really think that he has been happy here, in these 4 short months.  I don’t know what the rest of his life has been, and I never will know.  But I hope that all he remembers is being happy here.  I hope he doesn’t remember the surgery, or being given up repeatedly.  I hope he knows that I will never ever leave him.

It just kills me, because we were doing so well!  He has done outstandingly well on 3 legs, especially given that he is 11.5 years old.  He looks healthy.  He’s at his best weight since we adopted him as a scrawny old guy, even a little on the plump side.  His coat is thick and soft and nice.  His eyes are bright and he’s alert.  I really did think we had this thing licked, especially after his lung rads were clear.  I thought we’d get another 2 years with him; I really did.

It’s a kick in the teeth.  It’s not fair to my poor boy.  He should get to live this happy life for a long time.  I hate it.

Osteo is a sneaky, evil bastard.  I expected that if it came back, it would come back in his lungs.  That’s what I was looking for, and preparing myself to handle.  It really is a dirty trick to come back somewhere even more painful.  In TWO places even more painful.

When Crisco was diagnosed with cancer in his spine, he only lived another week because we couldn’t manage the pain.  He quit eating.  Whitey isn’t there, despite rads that look worse than Crisco’s did, but it still scares me.

Of course, looking at the spinal rads, Dr M and I both wondered: Was it in his spine all along?  We didn’t xray his spine before the amputation – but why would we?  Osteo, unfortunately, can spread to anywhere in the body: any other bone, the brain, anywhere at all.  You don’t know where to start looking.  So you look where it’s reasonable to look (the other leg) and then you do the amp on the primary tumor.  But…When we adopted him, the group told me that he seemed a little arthritic in his back end.  You expect that on an 11-yr-old dog, and I thought nothing of it.  Until yesterday.

Dr M and I talked about it, and she said that when she first met him, he seemed to be moving just fine in his back end, so it never even crossed our minds that something was wrong back there.  The only thing I can think of is – he was happy.  The pain wasn’t bothering him as much, because he was happy.  He wanted to run around, so he ran around.  But the pain and the cancer may have been there all along.  Bittersweet.

So I have no idea how long we’ll have with our little guy.  It’s a hideous decision to make, and I’ve had to make it 4 times already in the past year (for Sly, it was made for me).  Tanner’s case was the most comparable.  He was “himself” until the very end.  Watching me everywhere I went, trying to get up to follow me, eating with enthusiasm.  But he was in a ton of pain.  I know he was.  But he had so much will to keep going.  They say it’s better a day too soon than a day too late, because the day too late will haunt you forever.  And I think we were about 12 hours too late with Tanner.  I was feeding him ice cream, he fell down, and I suspect (but will never know) that he had a pathological fracture in his hip.  I don’t want to get to that point with White.  But it’s such a slippery slope.  With Crisco, I knew him well enough that he told me when he was done.  And I only hope that Whitey can tell me too.

Right now, it’s going to be damn near impossible to tear me away from his side, catering to his every whim.  I’m hoping he’ll think that he’s already died and gone to heaven, with all the spoiling he’s going to get.  He got a pretty generous share of my mom’s Easter ham aready, and I’m nagging Lloyd to go buy and prepare a whole roast beef for him.   Just hoping that the meds can do their job, and I can give him more good time.