November 30, 2010

Post-Chemo Popcorn - Not As Good An Idea As You Might Think

Abby had her second round of chemo today. I think she enjoyed it as much as the last visit. She loves the fuss everyone makes over her there, and she loves giving them all kisses. 

Hopefully her reaction to the chemo will be as minimal as last time. She certainly seemed to have tons of energy afterward! She did throw up a very tiny bit this afternoon – but I think that was because the post-chemo popcorn I gave her didn’t go down well. I guess post-chemo popcorn is a bad idea, and will remember that in future. I need to get this posted and then go see how she feels about dinner tonight. Hopefully she’ll have an appetite. I’ve got everything in the house to tempt her with: turkey, salmon, cottage cheese, and good old plain pasta.

The oncologist said she’s doing great, so we are going to move her chemo appointments to every two weeks instead of every three. Take that, Cancer!

Not much else to report. Crazy busy around here. Think I forgot to post a follow up to my mention a few posts back that we'd put an offer on a house. Well, it was accepted, so now we are busy busy busy trying to get our own house ready to go on the market and getting things lined up for the new house. We have the inspection of the new place on Thursday, so if all goes well with that, it should be a done deal. Oh, and you may recall that I mentioned in that same earlier post that we'd written a letter to the owners and mentioned how much we wanted to get a one-story house since our pup got cancer and had to have her leg amputated. I was a little worried that maybe the people wouldn't be dog lovers - but not to worry, they are! In fact, they sent the nicest letter back. She wrote, "Whether it's a person or an animal who is afflicted, cancer has a way of changing your outlook and changing your life," and wished us all the best with Abby. Sweet, huh?

Sorry no pics today, but if you link here my bro posted a bunch of pics of Abby and Leo playing in their yard on Thanksgiving day. Many action shots!

November 29, 2010

Chemo Eve

Tomorrow we go for Abby's second round of chemo. The oncologist said it should go pretty much the same as the last time, although there's potential for her to be sick to her stomach just depending on if she eats something different that doesn't agree with her. 

Last time you'll recall we had to play "What will the dog eat?" so I assume we'll be doing the same again starting tomorrow, although hopefully this time we'll have a better idea of what might appeal. Definitely going to have some plain pasta on hand, since that was a hit on day-two-post chemo last time. 

Not too much new with Abby today. We walked up to visit our friend Mazli this afternoon, which I'm guessing is about 3/4 of a mile. Not bad for hopping. I really didn't think she'd be able to go that far already, but it was no problem. In fact, she had a little too much energy leftover when we got there and was bouncing around, chewing on her leash and attempting to chew on Mazli. We ran a little bit of the way home to really wear her out. (Of course, since I forgot my camera at Jim's on Thanksgiving, I still don't have a picture of Mazli to share. Soon!) 

Yesterday we took her to Fiesta Island for her second visit and she had a great time. I wish I'd taken my Nano to get some more video. She played with this little terrier, and they were both racing up and down the bluff. Abby was running so fast, I thought she'd come somersaulting down the hill, but she was amazingly agile. The terrier's owner couldn't believe how Abby darted and raced around. Even Mike and I were impressed! Next time, I'll try to remember the Nano! 
I've included a couple of pictures of her, crashed in the Big Comfy Chair after Fiesta Island. In the second one, she is sleeping with her Long Skinny Tiger toy that her Aunt Jean sent for her. Thanks Aunt Jean!

Doesn't she look sweet?? 

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

November 26, 2010


You may recall that in one of my earliest posts, I said I was "envisioning a future post that will be entitled: Fiesta Island!!" Well, today was the day! We finally made it back to Fiesta Island - Abby's favorite place. It was her first time back since all this began - the limping, the surgery, the recovery. And it's the one year anniversary of the day we adopted her, so it was a perfect day to go. 
The weather was gorgeous today. She had a great time running around and playing with the other dogs. Only a few people commented on her one-leggedness, but the ones who noticed were impressed with how well she was getting around. At one point, she was running down the beach toward us so fast it was amazing - but I was too slow to get the video going. I posted a couple of short little videos at the end. 
She also had a great time yesterday, spending some quality Thanksgiving holiday time with her cousin, Leo, the mastiff. But... stupid Mama (that's me) left the camera at Jim & Denise's, so no pics of that to post today. Hopefully I'll get my camera back this week. We had to use Mike's iPhone today at Fiesta Island. Good thing we had it for documenting her big day back!

I also took some cute pictures of her with her new long, skinny tiger toy from her Aunt Jean, but will have to wait to post those. And yesterday we got the letters from Jean's third grade class. They're really cute. I'll do a post about them later in the week.  

November 25, 2010

A Post From the Rock Star Herself

Hi Everyone! My mom is typing for me as my typing skills are limited - I mean, you try typing just left handed and see how long it takes you! 

I just wanted to say a little something about this time last year versus today. Last year I was in a concrete little room with a beagle-mix named Duke. It was nice to have Duke to cuddle with (although he chewed on me a lot; I mean, seriously - a lot), and the people there were nice, but they weren't always around, so it could be a little scary sometimes. Before I got there, I had to take a long ride in a van and I couldn't see and it was a bit unnerving. But then my mom and dad came and picked me out! I was worried maybe they liked Duke, but, no! They liked me! (I wonder who Duke is chewing on today?)

It's been a kind of crazy year. Mostly great with new friends and new fun places and I love to go everywhere and meet new people, whether they are the four-legged or two-legged or three-legged kind. I don't really care how many legs they have - I just want to play with them and kiss them all. There were a couple of weeks this year that weren't so great, and I really don't know what all that was about, but now things are back to normal and it's all good!

Yesterday a really nice thing happened while we were hopping around the neighborhood. There's this nice lady and nice man that I really like. They have always stopped to say hi to me and make a big fuss about me - right from when I first came to live here. But yesterday, they gave me a present!! A squeaky raccoon!!!! My mom took about 87 pictures of me playing with it. (She complained that they were mostly blurry, but I can't help it. Who wants to sit and pose with a new toy? I want to toss it around!) The nice lady said it was a get well toy. I don't know what that means, but I sure was happy to get it! There are so many nice people around here. Another nice lady that I love - Buddy's mom - gave me some cookies on my walk. I jumped on everyone and gave them all kisses. 
"It squeaks! Must. Eat. Squeaker."

"I love my new raccoon!"

"Mom, enough already."

I know we are going to eat turkey today and I know everyone is talking about what they are thankful for. I'm thankful for turkey and squeaky toys and nice people and nice dogs and sleeping in the bed and sleeping on the couch and my cozy deep-dish bed and tummy rubs and Fiesta Island. (My mom and dad said we are going there tomorrow, to celebrate my one year anniversary of the day they brought me home. Hoorah! I can't wait.)

Big KISSES to everyone! 

November 23, 2010

Tri-Limbed Treat for a Tripawd

So, I go to get the dog a biscuit last night, and this is what comes out of the box:

Yes, it's a one-legged man cookie. Nice. 

Now, if I'd just had a limb amputated and someone handed me a handicapped gingerbread man, I think I'd fail to see the humor. I'd probably burst into tears, in fact, since it's pretty darn mean. But not Abby. She took it stride, accepted the cookie gratefully, and bit his head off. 
In other news, we ordered a smoked turkey online. (Not really for Thanksgiving dinner, since we are going to my brother's house, but just to have for leftovers and smoked turkey chili and smoked turkey enchiladas and smoked turkey jambalaya and smoked turkey stew and, well, you get the idea.) Here's an action shot of Abby sampling the purchase. Unfortunately, she's quite adept at standing up to the kitchen counter, even with only one front leg to hang on with. Of course, she would NEVER do that if it weren't for Mike tempting her up there with a piece of turkey. Never. 

As long as the weather is nice on Thanksgiving (which "they" are saying it will be) we are planning to go to Fiesta Island on Thursday morning - Abby's favorite place in the world. Should be a fun time. Will probably do a post-Thanksgiving post. Going to be a big day for her - going to F.I. and seeing her cousin Leo, the mastiff, whom she loves. All of us here at our house have a lot to be thankful for. 

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

November 22, 2010

The Running Video!

Bit of a crazy weekend, but we managed to record a video of Abby running (posted at the end). I recommend listening to it with the sound off, so you don't have to hear my screechy voice. She's running up hill and has Mike as an anchor, so it's not exactly at lightening speed, but still, it's pretty impressive for a recently tripawded pup! We saw some neighbors right after and they called her the "miracle dog." She ate up all the attention.

Saturday we went to a little party to hang out and watch hockey. (Mike was excited because we got to watch Hockey Night in Canada - Habs vs. Leafs! And to top it off, his team, Montreal of course, won.) Anyway, while we were gone, Abby went to her aunt and uncle's to hang out. Here she is telling her troubles to the St. Francis in their yard. 

On Sunday morning, we put an offer down on a house. Early that afternoon our realtor called and said we should write a nice letter to the owners, so we included how it would be so nice for our recently amputated dog to have a single story home. Hopefully they are dog lovers and not the sort of folks who think people like us are nuts! We'll see. They have until 5 today to counter or accept so we'll see what happens. 

And here it is, the requested running video:

November 19, 2010

Three Week Ampuversary!

It's Abby's three week "ampuversary" today, and as illustrated in the pics and video posted yesterday, she's doing really great. Just a few updates today:
  • We still have our mattress on the floor. She really likes sleeping on our bed during the day now, so if... I mean when...we put the mattress back up on the box spring, I'll probably have to start keeping our bedroom door closed. Don't mind her jumping up there to sleep, but the jumping down is no good, and there's not enough room for the ramp that we borrowed. Could try stairs, but I bet she'd jump over them!
  • Speaking of sleeping on our bed during the day, she is still sleeping a lot more than before all this. The oncologist said it could partly be the chemo, but I'm guessing it's also just the fact of still recovering from everything, and her stamina is not yet what it used to be. Maybe she just gets more tired out now when we walk, and this is how it's going to be from now on? Not sure... We'll see.
  • Thought you all might be interested to hear the weight differential from before and after the amp/first chemo. They weighed her at her follow up appointment this past Wed, and she'd only lost about 4.5 pounds. I was pretty surprised by that! I mean, she has very skinny front legs, but since they also took her shoulder and all the muscles around it, I thought she'd lose more. Plus, with all the variety in her diet since the chemo, I've had no idea if we're feeding her enough. 
This weekend is going to be busy, with a party tomorrow and going to Santa Barbara on Sunday, so I'll probably post again on Monday. Mike will be in charge of her all day Sunday. I'll tell him to take some pictures if she does anything super cute -- but what do you wanna bet he'll forget? I told him he can't take her to Fiesta Island while I'm gone, because I really want to be there to witness her first time back! Maybe we'll take her together on Thanksgiving morning - that would be pretty appropriate, I think.

November 18, 2010

Oh, How I Missed My Friend!

Today Abby had her first real play session with another dog since her amp surgery. It's been ages - probably about a month and a half at least. And I don't think she's seen her pal Dakota since August! But they definitely remembered each other and had a great time. I took a ton of pictures, and as you can see Abby was right in there:

Dakota likes to leap off the wall - luckily Abby didn't try!
Good action shot of Abby running

"What's this thing? Hey, where'd your leg go?"
This last one is blurry, but I included it because it cracks me up. Dakota was sniffing Abby's little nub and licking it. Luckily this is not acceptable behavior in human circles.  

And, if that's not enough, there's also a video. As you can see by Abby's crazily wagging tail, she had a great time. (You can hear Leslie and I gabbing. You don't really need the sound on.)

November 17, 2010

Cleared for the Dog Park!

Abby's follow up visit to the Vet Cancer Group went well this morning. As before, she was very happy to go there. She was not quite as happy when they poked her to take the blood sample, but she had a lot of cookies and got a lot of loving and attention, so in the balance it was a good visit. Here are some pictures of her getting cookies from the vet, Dr. Vancil, and the tech. 
Dr. V. said her white cell count had dropped a bit from her count pre-chemo, and both numbers were at the low end of the range, but the number was still high enough that he gave her the OK to go to the dog park. 

I texted a friend we met at the dog park, Leslie, who has a boxer named Dakota that Abby used to love to run and wrestle with at the dog park and at Fiesta Island. I don't think Abby is quite up to the wide open wildness of Fiesta Island just yet (I think she needs to build up her stamina a bit more first), so I thought maybe we'd meet at the dog park at an off hour when it might be sort of quiet. But, instead, Leslie graciously invited us to a private doggie play date at her house. This sounds much better to me, as I worry that the dog park might be busy and a bit overwhelming for her at this point. We are going to visit them tomorrow in the afternoon, so either later Thursday or early Friday I'll post pics from their date. Although Abby played a wee bit with a neighbor's mini Schnauzer on our front lawn yesterday, this will be her first time really playing full out as a Tripawd. Should be interesting... She learned her boxing style of play from Dakota, so we'll see how she does boxing with only her left jab! 

This afternoon we are going to the little park by our house (which is not a dog park, so we'll just hop around and hang out) and then over to visit our friend, Mazli, where Abby is sure to get many treats. Busy day for her! A little walk this morning, the vet, the park this afternoon and a visit to Mazli's! She'll be exhausted after all that.

Hopefully I'll manage to get a video of her running at some point--I'd like to see that myself; I've only seen her run from behind, since I can't keep up with her! One of these days I'll get that done and posted.

November 16, 2010

No More Cone/Collar!

Just a few wee updates on some things today. First and foremost, yesterday was Abby's first full day/night without her e-collar. She still occasionally sits and licks her little nubby spot obsessively, but it seems to be all healed up, so no more stuffing her head into the life preserver and having her growl at me. (As captured here, if you haven't already seen the video.) Hoorah!

In bits of other news, she seems VERY much like her old self: chasing the ball up and down the hallway, chewing on people we meet on the street, munching on her bones, etc. etc. This morning she had every single one of her bones out. It looks a little frustrating to me, not having that other paw to hold the bone in place, but she seems to enjoy it.

We also ran a little bit yesterday  - just a tiny bit, but she's so fast! We live on a hill, and we used to sometimes race up it at the end of our walks. Well, yesterday morning she seemed to want to run, so I started jogging and she took off. I was amazed at how fast she could go.

Tomorrow we go for the follow-up blood check at the Vet Cancer Group. If her white count is OK, hopefully we'll be hitting the dog park or Fiesta Island soon. Would love to take her there this weekend, but don't think we'll have time - we have two parties to go to this weekend (which is not the norm cuz we usually have nada going on), and both are during the day so F.I. may not be possible. If her white count is fine, I might have to try to convince Mike to take a long lunch break Friday so we can take her!

Will post again tomorrow after her check up. 

November 15, 2010

Damn, She's Cute!

OK - maybe I'm biased, since she's our sweet baby, but how cute are these pictures?
Cuddling with Daddy

Ready for her close up

"Rub my belly!"

"Seriously, how can you resist my belly?!"
Yesterday, I met up with three of my freshman year (like, 1984ish!) college roommates in Temecula for lunch. It was really fun and hardly like any time had passed. (Although we did drink our adult beverages without turning it into a drinking game, so I guess time has passed...) [We went to Public House - thanks for the recommendation, Jim and Denise!] Anyway, while I was gone, Mike drove Abby up to the little park in our neighborhood. Apparently, they had a great time and he completely wore her out. They met a man with two Irish wolfhounds who fell in love with Abby and said he hopes to run into her again soon. 

Abby also took Mike to visit Mazli, who lives across the street from the park. Mazli is a friend that Abby and I visit a couple of times a week on our walks. We haven't been to see Mazli in ages because of, oh, the limping, the bone biopsy, the surgery, the recovery, etc. While they were there, Abby got three cookies plus a "chewie" rawhide treat, so she was in heaven. I know she missed Mazli - and the cookies and the chewies as well. After her outing, she was beat and crashed in her "deep dish deluxe" bed most of the evening!

Photo Gallery (& A Side Effect of the Side Effect)


You can see where the wall's all wet
We took a ton of pics of Abby this weekend, so let's get to it. First of all, Abby had to have a bath, due to a side effect of a chemo side effect. We've been really lucky and it seems the chemo has only affected her appetite. She still has one, but it's hard to know what she'll eat on any given day, so we've been feeding her different, odd things everyday - wet food, salmon, cottage cheese, pasta, whatever she'll take. Unfortunately, that meant that when she went to do "her business" yesterday, there was a bit of the "business" on her leg when she came back inside. So into the bath she went. (Which she hates. Truth be told, this was only her second bath since we got her almost a year ago - although we do hose her down post visits to the beach. She's funny - she loves the water, but hates a bath.)

When we were done, she ran up and down the hall, leaning into the wall. Not sure if she thought she was drying herself off or what (maybe just paying us back for the bath treatment), but we had nice little wet streaks along the walls. We took her for a walk to air-dry a bit, so below is a photo of her looking oh-so-happy on her walk. I was rubbing her to facilitate drying, and you can see that I came away with a mohair hand. (If you double-click the pics you can see them full size and see the hair really well.)

I'll do a separate post of some super cute pics of her.  

Action shot: in mid-hop

My hairy hand            

Taking the air to air dry

November 13, 2010

I Didn't Think This Was Possible

Just a wee post for today about the use of the doggy door. I really didn't think Abby would be able to use it anymore. It just seemed like it would not be possible on three legs - but as you can see in this very short two-second video, it's no big deal at all for her. The girl must have some serious ab muscles to be able to support her weight on just her back legs while shoving the front half of her body through the door. No biggie!

We went on a couple of short walks with her today, trying to build her stamina back up. Some people don't notice at all; with others it takes a while for them to notice. One family in our neighborhood who have never spoken to us before (we've lived her 10 years!), actually talked to us. "Hey, did that dog always have three legs?" Seriously - that's what he asked me. Even though I've walked past their house with her pretty much every day, twice a day for almost a year now. Like, maybe he just didn't notice before. Anyway, they were nice and sympathetic and Abby ate it up. 

November 12, 2010

So Far, So Good...

I hope I'm not jinxing us by saying this (and, yes, I'm spitting on myself...), but so far Abby has not had a bad reaction to the chemo. Yesterday, we did have to play a game of "What Will The Dog Eat?" but other than that, she's been doing great. 

Wednesday night after chemo, her appetite was fine. Mixed a little canned wild salmon in with her food, and she ate it all up. But then yesterday, she seemed to have little appetite. 

Opened some sardines. Nope. Turned her nose up. 
Opened a can of wild salmon, which she'd devoured before. Again, nope. 
Tried some of her dried food on a whim, but no way.
Got out the cottage cheese, which she usually loves. She had a few halfhearted bites, then gave up. 

So, other than a bit of cottage cheese, she didn't eat much all day. Same routine again for dinner - ran through all her favorites and she didn't want any of it, but then we were making ourselves some pasta, and Mike handed her a noodle. She devoured it. He offered some more, and she chowed it all down. We gave her a little pile of plain pasta and she was quite happy. I went back to check the paperwork the Vet Cancer Group gave me and it said, "If your dog refuses to eat after treatment, offer bland foods like white rice or pasta." Clearly, she had read the paperwork. I had read it too, but had forgotten. (It's the lack of sleep. Last night was the first time I slept through the night since the day she was diagnosed - Oct 25, with the exception of the night she spent in the ER.) 

Hopefully she'll continue to do well, although I understand it can take several days to react, so we're not fully out of the woods yet. 

Yesterday and today have been pretty good days. We are at our two week "ampuversary" today, and she seems a lot like her old self. Last night when Mike came home, she jumped on him... I mean, she sat like an angel and waited for him to be ready to pet her. Then she hopped up on the sofa and flung herself onto her back, so he could rub her belly, like she always used to. Then she was playing with her toys and chewing on her bone, just like her old puppy self. This morning she got in bed with us (yes, we still have our mattress on the floor) and I was able to grab her and pull her up for a cuddle with us. It was so nice!
Hopefully she'll have many more weekly and then annual ampuversaries ahead of her.

Cujo Cone Puppy Video

OK - here it is. The video of (a) why she needs to still wear her cone/collar and (b) her Cujo-esque reaction when I put the collar on her. The quality is not great at points since I'm holding my "camera" (my iPod Nano) with one hand and trying to get the collar on with the other. (This is a huge file and I apologize to anyone on dial-up. Uh... probably just Linda?)

As you can tell from the laughing, I am not-so-much a-feared of her "I'll rip your face off" threats. I should have continued to film, since right after this she was immediately back to her old lovable self. Toward the end of the video, you hear Mike coming over and sweet-talking her. Within seconds of growling at me, she was showering him with kisses and then I got in on the act and received some as well, so all was forgiven.

Will do another post later with an update on her chemo reaction thus far. So many things to tell... but apparently advice to bloggers is to make the posts short so I don't bore y'all. So I may have to parse some things out over the coming days. We are off for our morning hop around the block. More later.  

(Thanks to Terry for pointing out that I've been misspelling Cujo! My only excuse is that I never read it/never saw the movie...)

November 11, 2010

First "Real" Tripawd Walk

Abby went for her first "real" walk yesterday as a tripawd. It was funny to see how few people in the neighborhood even noticed. I did see some ladies in a car slow way down for their drive-by, looking at her and making that "Awwww" face. They waved and smiled at me, but I have no idea who they were. 

Then we saw one of Abby's neighborhood boyfriends coming along--Donovan. He's a Shepard mix and the same age as Abby. I just stopped to wait for his "mom" to notice. It took her a while, but when she did, she put her hand up to her heart, and said, "Oh no! What happened!?" It was a similar scene as with my hairdresser the other day - she threatened to start crying. But Abby had a huge smile on her face and was waving her tail back and forth, so I just said, "Yeah, but look how happy she is." 

This morning we went for another short walk with Abby's Aunt Terry and her cousin, Corgi Lou. (And Terry gets photo credits for today. I forgot to bring my camera along!)

A nice lady in their neighborhood gave them treats on our walk (which I guess is her usual M.O). She gave Abby an extra one for her troubles. (And so it begins - the milking it!) Lou, on the other, didn't cut Abby any slack--he showed her some teeth when she tried to give him a few too many kisses. She LOVES him and he tolerates her.

We went to Terry's to borrow a ramp from her neighbor. Here's Abby test-driving it for the first time. I managed to get her to come down it when we got home as well, although it took a lot of coaxing with a jerkey treat. It will be great if she can get used to it--don't want her to hurt herself jumping down! We also need to try it in our bedroom or maybe add some stairs for the bed. (Or... we need to train her to not sleep in our bed... That sounds a lot like tough love though, and, as I've mentioned, we-ESPECIALLY Mike-are not so good at that.)   
As you can see, she's still wearing a T-shirt. Mostly to keep her from scaring folks (although she's healing up nicely) and to keep her from bugging the incision.Yesterday she almost chewed off the tank top I had on her, because she wants at those scabs so badly! So, for the most part, she is still wearing the dreaded e-collar. I took a video of her illustrating the whole "need for a cone" situation, but Mike said not to post it as it doesn't paint her in the nicest light. You should see her show me her teeth when I put the cone on her! Cujo-puppy! So suddenly Mr. We Need To Show People Every Part of This is all "no, let's not show the nitty-gritty and put the puppy in a bad light." (I think it's understandable though - I'd be a might testy too if someone: took my arm; wouldn't let me go out and have fun for weeks on end; and then kept stuffing my head through a life preserver! Oh, yeah, I'd be showing some teeth!) 

If there's demand for the video, I'll post it. I find it amusing. 

Oh, and btw, no side effects so far from yesterday's chemo - although I guess it can take a few days. Wish us luck with that!

November 10, 2010

Chemo - What Fun!

We went for Abby's first chemo session today. She loved it. (She's so nutty.) It was the most excited I've seen her in about a month. She was bouncing all over the place and kissing everyone and hopping around. She loved it there. (We are going to the Vet Cancer Group, which is a different place from where we go for her regular vet care/where her amp was done.) The oncologist I met before, Dr. Vancil, was in a jury pool, so he had to go back to the court house this morning, so we had our appointment with a different oncologist, Dr. Rosenberg--the head of all of VCG (they have several offices in So Cal). She was super nice and sat on the floor with Abby and let Abby kiss her all she wanted.

Here is a picture of her looking oh-so-happy to be at her appointment. (She is checking out the dog and cat art hanging on the wall.)

Dr. R. said they would give her the 100% dose for the first go-round, since Abby looked so healthy and peppy. (I guess in some cases they ease into things, but with Abby we are attacking whole-hog.) She also said if Abby tolerates the treatment well, we might go to an every 2 weeks schedule instead of every 3. We'll see. (Although not right away because of Thanksgiving coming up.) 

The chemo is given by IV. Abby was so amped up, I asked how they would keep her quiet enough to get the drugs in her. Dr. R. said one tech would hold her and pet her while the other one put the IV in, and it would be done in a couple of minutes. When the tech came back with Abby, she said she did great and just lay down on the floor, like "OK, let me have it."

They gave me some nausea medication to bring home and give her, just in case. Within the next 24-72 hours we'll really know how she's doing. We go back in one week so they can check her blood - 7-10 days is generally the low point for white cell count, so they'll check to see how she's doing. If it's really low, she might have to stick close to home for a few days. But other than that, Dr. R. cleared her for all her old activities already! Walking! Dog Park! Dog Beach! HIKING even! She said Abby just needs to build back up her stamina. So, this afternoon, we'll try a little hop around the neighborhood. 

Hopefully she won't feel too nauseous over the next few days so we can start building up her stamina! So far, she seems fine-just tired from the excitement. She came home and wolfed down her breakfast (canned salmon mixed with salmon-flavored kibble), which she had ignored earlier (she never has much appetite in the a.m.). Right now she's napping.

In an amusing side note, I heard the gal working the front desk talking to Dr. V. on the phone. He ended up not getting on a jury after all and was calling to say he was coming back to the office. I heard the gal say to him, "Someone got off the jury by claiming an over-active bladder?" So, people - remember that line next time you want to get off of jury duty!

November 9, 2010

Glimpses of Her Old Puppy Self (& Incision Pics!)

Yesterday we definitely saw signs of our old pupster. My friend Louisa came over last night and Abby has always loved to jump on and nibble upon Louisa. (When she gets really excited, she starts out licking and then progresses to gnawing quite quickly. The puppy, that is - not Louisa.) On Saturday, when Louisa came by for our usual Saturday morning writing session, Abby was happy to see her and whined and told Louisa all her troubles and gave her kisses, but then pretty much crashed. But last night, she was like her old self, trying to jump up on Louisa and gnawing on her hands. 

Now, somehow, I thought the dog would magically stop doing all the jumping/gnawing after all this. I imagined something like this going through her little puppy head: "Wow, I've had a brush with death. From this day forward I'm going to be the best dog I can possibly be!" And she would listen to her mother and do everything she's asked to do. 

Silly me. I should have known that the bad habits she had before the surgery would still be around post-surgery. I thought, though, that it might be harder for her to jump up on people, post-surgery. But it was fairly stupid of me to think that, because of course she still has two big strong back legs to stand up on. 

Anyway, I was sort of happy to see the jumping/gnawing as she seemed like her old puppy self. Then she even went and got her new toys and started playing with them, which was nice to see since it's the first time she's really tried to play since her surgery on 10/29. Here she is trying to destruct the indestructible stuffed man that Aunt Terry brought her. So far, he remains intact. 

She's still having to wear her collar today. The second I take it off her she starts licking her incision, but I managed to convince her to stop chewing on herself long enough to take a couple of pictures to show how nicely she's heeling up. It looks way better, but for now I think we'll stick with keeping a T-shirt on her, so we don't scare the neighbors. (Oh, and I thought of another thing I want to have custom-printed on a T-shirt for her: IHOP.)

Tomorrow we have chemo at 10a.m. (Assuming the oncologist is done with jury duty! Please keep your fingers crossed that they won't have to cancel our appointment!) Assuming we get in, I'll blog all about it afterward. Wish us luck! 

Jean, I can't wait to hear what the 3rd graders think of all this. I practically had my hairdresser in tears this morning telling her the whole saga. Had to reassure her that Abby's doing great!

November 8, 2010

No More Staples! (But Still... the Cone...)

I took Abby to the vet today to have them take a look at a little pocket of fluid (officially called a "seroma") that had built up on her chest where her drain used to be. I knew from the e-book about tripawds ("Three Legs & A Spare") that I downloaded from the excellent Tripawds site that these sorts of things can happen post-surgery, but apparently they sometimes need to be drained out, so I wanted to the vet to check it. They said hers looks OK and should be re-absorbed into her body. While we were there they took her staples out. Hoorah! She's looking a little less like Frankenpup! (Wanted to take a pic to post, but she's all curled up asleep right now.) The bummer is that she's still chewing on herself, because of all the oh-so-delicious scabbiness, so she still has to wear the cone for a bit longer. 

She was so excited, once again, about going to the vet's office. And everyone there goes nuts when she comes in. "Abby!" they all yell. (It's even better than the greeting Norm used to always get on Cheers.) They all want to love on her, and she eats it up and wiggles and kisses everyone. They are all thrilled with how well she's doing and the vet was saying what a "cool dog" she is. He said they are all so happy we decided to go through with the amputation and chemo. One woman working there said Abby is a great illustration of how dogs live in the moment, since she holds no grudge against the place and people who took her leg. They told me I should write a book about her. Hmmmm. (Actually, I am working her into the novel I'm writing... but maybe she needs her own non-fiction book as well. We'll have to see how her chemo goes!). 

The vet also said I can start walking her soon - he said in a couple of days, but of course, her chemo starts on Wednesday, so that will probably delay the start of our walks. But maybe by the weekend! 

She is still experiencing a bit of what seems to be known as "phantom limb pain," which is the same thing that happens with human amputees. We've noticed the only time she really seems to whine or cry now is mainly when she "forgets" about what's happened. For instance, when she first wakes up, she'll try to stretch her legs like she's always done every morning. Well, apparently, her brain doesn't realized yet that the one leg is gone, so, as the Tripawds book describes it, the brain sends signals to the leg, and when the signals aren't received, there's a bit of a "panic" message that is interpreted as pain. It also happened last night when she heard something out in the yard and was trying to be her old tough girl, guard-dog self. She got all puffed up and started barking her Big Bark, but then started crying right away. Poor little sweetie. I'm sure this will subside over time - hopefully rather quickly.

As I mentioned, this Tripawds ebook has been really helpful. (I wish we'd had it from the beginning. It's the only place I've seen that really warns you how scary your dog will look post-surgery - with color pictures and everything.) But... it says you shouldn't baby the dog during the recovery period. Um, but what if you've been babying the dog all along, like... from the second you originally brought it home from the shelter?? 

Here are some of the things it says we should not do, but which we've totally been doing. 
  • Don't sleep on the floor (We still have our mattress on the floor, even though she's hardly slept in the bed with us. But we want her to have the option and we don't want to have to worry about her jumping out of the bed! I think we may have to look into some sort of stairs or a ramp for her so we can get our mattress back up where it belongs!)
  • Don't bring them their food/hand feed them (It's really the only way I can get her to eat - and since she needs to take her pills with food, well... Of course the one exception was the Flying Dutchman, which she most definitely did not want me to touch!)
  • Don't run to assist them at any sign of discomfort (Oh, yeah, we totally run over to her at any sign of pain! "Oh honey! Are you OK???")
The book says we should be "tough loving" her - but anyone who's ever been to our house during any time when we had a dog knows we are not so good with the tough love. Dogs don't call our house "The Spa" for nuthin'!

Better sign off - my writer-friend Louisa is coming over tonight for a writing session (and for pizza eating) while Mike is at a work dinner. Gotta get ready. Abby LOVES Louisa, so she'll be happy to have another visitor. 

Will try to post some updated incision pics tomorrow. (Oooo, isn't that something to look forward to!?)

November 7, 2010

Home Alone (& A Classic 4-Limbed Video)

Today Mike and I decided to go for a little hike, since the weather is so nice. I felt guilty about leaving the pupster home alone, but needed to get some exercise in since I haven't been walking/running ever since my little cardio partner came up lame. She really wanted to go along when she saw us getting ready, and dashed out to the car to try and hop in. Poor pup! We had to coax her back inside with treats.

We decided since we didn't have her along to go to Torrey Pines State Park. Since dogs aren't allowed, we hardly ever go there. We did some hiking and a bit of running (to test Mike's post-surgery knee out), and went down to the beach where we saw a seal bobbing in the water. Should have taken the camera because it was gorgeous down there today. We weren't gone too long, so luckily Abby wasn't too irritated with us when we got home. In fact, we even got a few welcome home kisses. Only, not as many kisses as she gives to visitors these days. (I think she's annoyed with us, not because she realizes we are the ones responsible for the absence of her limb, but because we never take her out beyond the confines of our yard anymore!)

Anyway, speaking of visitors, my brother, Jim, and sis-in-law, Denise, came by for a little visit with Abby yesterday. She was very happy to see them - especially since they brought her a new toy, seen here. Was trying to get a pic of her playing with it but none of them came out well. Instead, she is kinda crashed with it here. I'm trying to give her less pain meds today and see how that goes, since they are hard on her system, so to make up for the decrease in pain pills, I gave her 1/2 of a sedative. You can see she's looking verrrrrry sleeeepy in this picture. Got a little of that "third eyelid" action going on. 

Last night she was a wee bit standoffish again - slept most of the night out in the hall, but she did come in this morning and hop in bed with us. (We are still sleeping with our mattress on the floor. It feels mildly reminiscent of camping, although way more comfortable!)

Due to popular demand (okay, really only one person asked), I'm including below a video from a couple of months back before all her troubles started. She'd gone to Terry's for the day as a 'practice' dog-sitting session since she'd never been away from home before. She was so busy pestering her cousin, Corgi Lou, all day long that she came home exhausted! I'd made some popcorn - one of her favorite foods, even though she is not much of a chow hound - and thought for sure she'd wake up to share some with me. Here's what happened:

November 6, 2010

A Night Out (!) & A Hoppy Video

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we went out last night to a fundraiser at The Farm House restaurant. The charity is called "World Bicycle Relief" and last night they were specifically raising money to give bikes to kids, especially girls, in Africa so they can get to school. (I think that is kind of a funny name for the group - sort of sounds like they are trying to relieve the world of the scourge of bicycles.) Anyway, it was a fun night and lots of nice people. There was only room for 40 but even in that small group there was an interesting mix of folks--or at least a mix of ages, from probably 20s to 80s. The food was incredible: lobster tortellini starter, delicious butternut squash soup, truffle-crusted black cod on a bed of pumpkin and chestnut risotto (to die for), and beef cheeks for the main course. We had never eaten beef cheeks before. Mike asked which cheeks they were... Wherever they came from they were darn tasty - a lot like short ribs. Then there was a cheese course with these heavenly bits of cheese; one of them was baked into this little cloud of pastry. Yum! Then for dessert, a little cake made with stout ale and served with maple ice cream and candied bacon. I love this restaurant. They candy bacon. So yummy with the maple ice cream! AND we each got a little box of homemade chocolates to bring home. 

And here's the horror part: I FORGOT to bring my box of chocolates when we left!!! I didn't realize it until we'd driven away. What the heck???? I blame it on the lack of sleep for two weeks running. Anyway, my hubby says he will share his box with me. He is a good hubby.

For most of dinner we were seated with this very nice couple who are also dog people and who like to travel, so we had a good chat with them. Then halfway through the meal, Mike's acupuncturist - who was seated next to Chris Horner (top 10 (!) in this year's Tour de France and teammate of Lance Armstrong) - came over and said he and his wife would change seats with us so we could talk to Chris. We were a little shy to do it, but switched with them - and Chris was super nice and easy to talk to. It was fun to get some inside stories about this year's Tour, especially Stage 2 which was so rainy and slippery that guys were crashing everywhere. Chris said he was actually passed by two riderless bicycles at one point!

Anyway, it was a very fun night - and just so nice to get dressed up and go out. I realized while I was getting ready that I hadn't gone out for a fun reason since we found out about Abby's cancer. My sister, Terry, came and stayed with Abby until bed time (bed time for both Abby and Terry that is...), so it was nice to go out and not worry about the pooch being home alone. And Abby was also only too happy for a little change of pace. She's clearly sick of hanging out around here with me, as evidenced by the disgusting display of over-the-top kissing and tail wagging that went on when Terry arrived!

Also yesterday, my other sis, Kath, came by to visit Abby. Again, Kath got way more kisses than Mike or I have been getting lately. Kath brought Abby some cookies, like this one that says "Superdog," which were a big hit. (And kinda tasty, I might add...)

Some of you asked how Abby's getting around, so here is a very short video of her. The oncologist said the getting around part would be easy for her, but the hardest thing for her would be re-learning how to sit and lie down, so in the video: she hops! She sits! She lays down! (Riveting stuff... I should really get this up on YouTube so it can go viral.)

November 5, 2010

A Short Update

Abby seems more like her old self today, just an amazing 7 days post-op. She wags her tail more and gives kisses. She even hopped over and begged a little yesterday when my friend Michelle came over and we were enjoying our Rubio's burritos. Was never so happy to see her beg. She was very happy to see Michelle. She loves visitors. 

We actually slept pretty well too. Only got up once in the night and she even curled up in bed with us for a bit. I think we are getting there.
Here she is loving on her daddy when he came home from work.

Tonight we are going out so my sister, Terry, is coming to babysit, at least until Abby is settled in for the night. We are going to a fund raising dinner for World Bicycle Relief at The Farm House restaurant. The money raised will go to buy bikes for kids in Africa who have to travel ridiculous distances on foot to get to school. And the menu sounds amazing! It's like 7 courses. Plus Chris Horner, who was 10th in this year's Tour de France, will be there. We are such cycling geek-fans. I hope we (referring only to myself, really) don't act totally goofy in front of him. 

Oh - and to follow up on yesterday's post, that strange fruit - the sapote - was indeed a little strange. It was very soft and smooth and had a very mild flavor. It was like eating vanilla pudding, but someone forgot to put the vanilla flavor in.
And, now, for your enjoyment, here is a beautiful flower - with three stems: