October 31, 2010

Flying Dutchman!

You may be wondering what a legendary ghost ship has to do with our Tripawd's recovery. Well, it turns out the Flying Dutchman is what you ask for when you want a beef patty for your dog from In-N-Out burger. It's actually 2 patties and 2 slices of cheese. Here she is enjoying it last night. At first she picked it up all in one piece. I was afraid she was going to inhale it in one gulp, so reached out to help break it into smaller pieces. Apparently she didn't trust my offer for "help" - she growled at me! Normally, I'd be a bit annoyed with her growling at me, but we were happy to see some spunk! 
She made it through the night pretty well, although we didn't sleep great, listening for her. At one point she got out of her bed and we let her up in the bed with us. This morning we are laying around. She's sporting a new T-shirt - pink for the cancer fight. Here she is in full tripawd stance, and also watching TV with Daddy.
To answer the question posed in the comments from the last post, no she will not be wearing her Chargers shirt today. She is very disgusted with them and says they play ball worse than a two-legged dog! (Also, her drain is still oozing - and we don't want to ruin the shirt, on the off chance they would ever start to play well again... I know. We can dream.)

The one bad bit of news is that I threw my back out this morning, trying to run around and keep up with her and keep her in her sling while we went out to potty and have a bit of fresh air. I took a muscle relaxer and have her doped up, so she and I will lay around while Mike goes for a bike ride. 

That's all the news from this morning!

[If anyone is a blogger expert - I can't get the Followers "gadget" to work. I can see it sitting there in the "design" view. I've tried removing it and re-adding it, but it's still not showing up on the page. A few folks said they tried to follow the blog, but got error messages. Don't know what the heck is wrong. Very frustrating. Any ideas?] 

October 30, 2010

Just In Time For Halloween

[Warning - posted pics not for the squeamish]

Our little Frankenpup is home, just in time to scare the neighborhood children. Excellent.

Mike says we should post a pic of her. I thought maybe it was a little too gruesome, but if my bro can post a pic of my nephew, Jake, from the ER the night Jake broke his face in half in June '09, then I guess we can post a pic of Frankfenpup, Abby. (In case you view the scary pic of Jake, rest assured that just a number of weeks later he was looking practically like his young handsome self again and was recovered and ready to go off to college as planned by the end of the summer. Young kids - they heal fast. Hopefully young pups do too.)

Before I post the pic, I just want to say, when you talk to the vets and look up info online about folks who have tripawd dogs, they all say how great they do on three legs. They do not say how scary the dog is going to look when you first pick him/her up. We were expecting a big ol' bandage, but they said she didn't need it. So, here she is in all her stapled up glory.

In the pic, you can see under her the sling I fashioned for helping her get around and go out to potty. I took an old blue bath towel, cut it down to size, and then sewed it up with some handles. The handles are made from a dog collar a friend gave us when her dog Buzz passed away. The color was a little too muy macho for a collar for Abby, but it worked great for the handles. (A little shout-out of thanks to Buzz in doggie heaven.)

She started trying to lick her scary incision, so we had to put her in her new fancy-schmancy soft cone. I'm not sure if this is an upgrade from her usual plastic cone of shame or not. She looks like a giant blue daisy. She didn't look super comfortable in it, so we just put a t-shirt on her instead. Since we got her home, she has mostly just crashed, big time, in her new bed we got her. So glad we ordered it! It's a cozy, comfy little spot for her. It has a big label on it that reads: Deluxe Deep Dish. For some reason, every time I walk by it, I have a craving for Chicago-style pizza. 

Here she is below, in happier days in her brand new bed. So hard to believe that is a mere 10 days ago, back before we knew about the stupid cancer. The other pic is her, sleeping in her t-shirt, in front of a piece of cheese.
She's actually done pretty well with eating. Had almost a whole slice of provolone and had several big spoonfuls of Blue Buffalo's Backyard BBQ. (Really, to me it doesn't bring to mind BBQ. There's no red sauce, no corn on the cob. I think it should be renamed Sunday Night Family Pot Roast.)

You cannot believe how fast she is already getting around. When we picked her up at the overnight ER, we hadn't even brought a leash, because we thought we'd be carrying her to the car. The "nurse" said, "No, she's way beyond that already." She loaned us a leash and out we went to the parking lot, Mike manning the leash and me on the sling. Damn! She bolted for the grass and I couldn't even keep up with her! She face-planted when her back legs got caught up in the sling. Poor thing! But now we know. She jumped in the car on her own, like it was nothing. (Although getting out at home was a little more unstable...) When we got her home, I took both the leash and the sling and had to trot alongside her to keep up with her. 

I think in a few more days time we may have a hard time keeping her quiet! Supposed to only take her out on the leash for pottying for the next 13 days!  

Tonight, we are planning to spoil her with a burger patty from In-N-Out. :)

October 29, 2010

Our Poor Sweet Frankenpup

So, we ended up not bringing Abby home tonight. The vet called me before we went to get her, to warn me we might want to consider not bringing her home just yet. He said we could come get her, see how she was doing, and if we thought it seemed like more nursing than we could handle, they would help us load her up and then we could take her to the ER hospital for the night. So, that's what we did.

He warned me she looked like Frankenstein's dog - but I thought he meant under the bandages. But, no - there are no bandages! Her big ol' gigantic incision - which looks sorta like one of those radioactive symbols - is just hanging out there. Poor Sweet Pea!

When we saw her we were a little (okay, a lot) freaked out. She wagged her tail when she saw us. She was breathing very heavily - they said from the excitement of seeing us. The vet and the vet tech said it would be better for her to go to the ER since they could keep her on an IV drip for fluids/pain meds and she would be more comfortable, so that's what we did. We will bring her home in the morning, as long as the vet there says she's good to go.

We have to keep her quiet for 2 weeks. She can only go out to potty and has to be on a leash when she goes. She looks so scary, poor little thing. Just in time for Halloween. Going to set her up outside and scare the crap outta the neighborhood kids. 

Mike says we should post a picture of her tomorrow - but it's pretty rough to look it. We'll see. More tomorrow.

Tripawd Update: Check!

Got the call from the vet that Abby made it through surgery fine. If all goes well, we can pick her up in about 2 hours. 

In the meantime, thought I'd post a few pics of her and tell folks who haven't met our sweet pup a little bit about her. 

The first pic is from the day that we brought her home from the shelter, where they were calling her Smooch. It was a good name for her, as she is VERY kissy (thus the name of the blog), but we just couldn't see ourselves calling her that. Instead we named her Abby Louise. (Yes, she has a middle name.) We named her that because it uses all the letters from the name of our sweet beag that we lost last year: Bailey.

She was hard to get decent pictures of as a pup because she was always running around. Finally held still for a photo op the day she climbed into my kitchen cupboard! I guess she thought it was cozy. 

She definitely wouldn't fit in the cupboard anymore. She is a very tall, although very skinny, girl. Here is a picture of her with her cousin, Lou. My sis and her husband were dog-sitting for us and they dubbed the pair of them Stubs & Stilts. Stubs can walk right under Stilts.

It's that skinny little right front leg that is now a goner. (Stupid tumor. Stupid cancer.) We've been telling her she doesn't need it, as it is just a little chicken wing of a thing anyway. Luckily she has a very narrow chest (she's like her Mama - all hips, no chest) so I'm hoping she will be OK with only one stilt there.

Here she is sunning herself yesterday. This shot shows what lovely big ol' ham-hocks she has for back legs. I'm glad one of those bad boys didn't have to come off. They are very strong and muscular and I think she would have missed one of those more than that spindly little front leg. (At least that is what we are telling ourselves.)

As you can see from the photos, Abby is not much of a smiler. Not like our beagle Bailey, who smiled a lot:

Here's one of few pics we have of Abby smiling. It's because she's at her favorite place, Fiesta Island (with the San Diego skyline barely visible there in the background.) Hopefully she'll be able to go back there again soon!

Dropped Her Off; Feeling Surprisingly Calm

I dropped Abby off this morning for her update-to-tripawdness procedure. I thought I'd be feeling very freaked out about it, but I'm feeling pretty calm. I think there are a couple of reasons for that:
  • This morning she was limping very badly and standing around on 3 legs, so I just keep repeating the tagline on the official Tripawds website: Better to hop on 3 legs than limp on 4!
  • I'm excited about that the fact that just a mere 48 hours ago her lung xray looked clear, so we are moving very quickly to get rid of that nasty big ol' tumor. (OK, and her leg with it, but that's the way it's gotta be.)
  • I can tell that she is oh-so-tired of being doped up. If we weren't doing all this, she would have ended her days being drugged the whole time. Hopefully we are now on the road to her being happy and, maybe within a couple of weeks, off the pain meds.

I know I'm going to probably lose it when we pick her up tonight, and I see her sad, doped up little face and her 15 toes (counting dew claws - she still has her back ones) where there used to be 20, but for now I'm keeping it together. 

Later I'm going to post some pictures of her and also explain the blog name - a little homage to our sweet pup.

(Pardon me while I experiment with my font sizes here. "Small" seems tiny to me and "Normal" seems huge and there's nothing in between... I also can't figure out why the "Follow" button is not showing up. Just lost my blogging virginity yesterday, so still trying to figure out how this all works...)

October 28, 2010

The Rollercoaster Ride to Arrive at a Decision

It's been a crazy couple of days. I thought people might like to know how we arrived at our decision to have Abby's leg amputated (I prefer the phrase "have her updated to a tripawd") and undergo chemo. 

Everything kind of fell into place after a quick roller coaster ride as follows:
  • Monday afternoon: find out dog has osteosarcoma (via bone biopsy performed the previous Thur). Vet says she'll be in terrible pain and dead in under 6 months if we do nothing. (OK, he doesn't say "dead" - he uses one of the euphemisms like "won't make it," like she's a contestant trying out for American Idol or something.) Says he'll talk to the oncologist and call back Tuesday with survival odds for surgery/chemo route. Mood: very black.
  • Tuesday: find out odds are not great, but misunderstand odds and think they are better than they really are. Mood: charcoal gray.
  • Wed morning: dog gets chest xrayed at vet. No sign of cancer in the lungs! Great news as the lungs are the first place the disease metastasizes. Mood: pale gray. Feeling some hope.
  • Wed morning, late: call for consultation with oncologist. Can't get me in until Wed, Nov 3. Mood: darkening. Worrying about aggressive cancer being given one more week to attack my dog. Call back to ask if I can be on a cancellation list. She says it's not really an option, since the doc will be out of the office the next four days for one reason or another.
  • Wed early afternoon: call vet, worried about one week delay. He says it's not ideal. Also explains how stats are more grim than we thought. Mood: heading to black again
  • Wed mid-afternoon: while looking for an alternative oncologist, the office calls - there's a cancellation! Rush over with the dog. Oncologist is super nice, knowledgeable, answers all my questions before I can even ask them. Abby hugs and kisses him. Repeatedly. He says her xrays look really good and we seem to have caught it early. Seconds the recommendation for amputation/chemo. He explains we may have caught it early due to the location. Most cases are in apparently in the radius bone - the bigger weight bearing bone of the front leg. Hers is in the ulna - the smaller bone that runs alongside. He explains it's such a thin bone, the lump was obvious early on. Just to fully explain our options, he said we could also do a "limb sparing" procedure. Her leg would have been saved - but it would mean 8 weeks of total rest. 8 weeks! For a puppy! He said some surgeons even suggest 8 weeks in a crate. No way would we consider doing that to her. In contrast, most dogs recover well and adjust quickly to becoming a tripawd. And as soon as she recovers from the surgery - hopefully in the 10ish days range - she will be 100% pain free. This is huge, as she is in a lot of pain right now. So, amputation to relieve the pain, plus chemo to hopefully extend her life. Mood: MUCH improved. Feeling kinda hopeful.
  • Wed late afternoon: call vet to get info on last piece of the puzzle, the estimate/scheduling for the update-Abby-to-a-tripawd procedure. He says he'll likely call back Thur as he has to call the surgeon. Calls back within the hour and says the surgeon (usually booked 3 weeks out) has had a cancellation. She can come in Friday. Mood: almost giddy. Everything's falling into place to get on this quickly!
  • Wed night: we make the GO decision. Commence freaking out. Mood: panicked. What the hell are we doing, willingly cutting off our dog's leg?? Friends and family weigh in and scrape me off the ceiling. 
Ultimately, it's really the best option, and I think we are doing the right thing for her. Doing nothing would mean fighting her pain until the end, which would be in sight on the horizon. Now we are hopefully going to end her pain and extend her life. Our ultimate goal is to get her back to Fiesta Island, the huge dog park/beach here in San Diego that she loves. It's her favorite place. If we did not do any of this, she really couldn't go back-not just because of the pain but also because of the risk of breaking the weakened bone. 

I am envisioning a future post that will be entitled: Fiesta Island!! (Mood: hopeful. And maybe still just a little bit panicked.)

Yes, just what the world needs. Another blog.

OK. I'm starting a blog, which is something I've been thinking about for a while. After all, I'm supposed to be a writer. (OK, well, I am a writer if you consider that I sit around and write at least a little bit almost every day - but I'm an amateur writer at the moment since no one wants to pay me to be a pro - yet.) Some people say writers need to have blogs. I don't necessarily buy into that line of thinking. After all, people might love your books, but hate your personality, so maybe your blog would be a detriment to your writing career. So, I'd been resisting the whole blogging thing. Even though my family is suddenly sprouting bloggers left and right: like my niece and her excellent fashion blog, Waitin Round 2 Be a Millionaire, or my sister and her fun blog about Garage Sailing, or my brother and his amusing Gumbatarian blog which is mostly about food. These folks have a passion, and they blog about it. But what was my passion?? And how did that relate to would-be writing career? 

Of course the subject of dogs occurred to me. I'm a big dog lover and most of my writing includes dogs as main characters. I've had dogs for most of my life, and I volunteer every Monday at Helen Woodward, a wonderful animal shelter where I play with the adoption dogs. But I didn't know what I would say about dogs. I mean, a weekly post about how much I love dogs? That would probably get old...

Unfortunately, the subject matter presented itself this past Monday, in the form of the dreaded "C" word. That was the day we found out our dog Abby, a mixed breed pup that we adopted from Helen Woodward the day after last Thanksgiving, has bone cancer. 

We were shocked, angry, devastated. We'd just lost our twelve-year-old beagle only a year ago to cancer. How could our 15-month-old puppy, so full of energy and spunk (don't you hate that word?) be sick?? And not just sick, but dying. How could that happen?? She'd started limping a few weeks earlier. We thought it was just a sprain at first. But after two weeks of sedative-induced rest, it was no better. In fact, by then we could see the lump on her leg. The vet biopsied the bone one week ago today, and warned us it might be a week before we'd know anything. But by Monday he already had the bad news: osteosarcoma. A wild two days later, spent researching, calling the vet multiple times, meeting with the oncologist, etc. etc. and we already have her booked for an amputation of her right front leg. She goes in for the surgery tomorrow. Oh how things change in a week.

I'll post more on the whirlwind 48 hours that it's been later. For now, just wanted to get started. 

Thanks for reading.