November 30, 2011


Abby had her xray today and the GREAT news is that the lameness in her remaining front leg is NOT from the cancer spreading. In fact, her bone not only did NOT looked compromised at all - it looked beautiful (just like her outsides... just like she's been saying all along...). But, there was too much of it. Yeah, too much bone, caused by this apparently rare disease called Hypertrophic Osteopathy (HO). Dr. V. said it's so rare some doctor's might not have known what the problem was, but being an oncologist he has seen it before, since it is thought to be caused by a tumor(s) in the lungs.

So, it was not the best case scenario (which would have been an overuse injury) and it was not the worst case scenario (which would have been bone cancer and more or less game over). It's a rare and unique case - just like our girl.

I've been saying all along that Dr. V. says her lung "mets" are not acting like normal mets. Normally, once the disease metastasizes (when will I learn to spell that word? It takes me 7 tries to get it right each time...) the dog's lungs fill with lots of little mets - or "lung mints" as we sometimes like to call them on Tripawds. But Abby doesn't have lots of little "mints." She's got a coupla biggish ones and a small one. So, I guess her not-normal mets have led us down this not-normal path.

Dr. V. says the pain will sort of wax and wane, so we have the okay again to take her on walks, as long as she seems willing (and she definitely does, at least the last couple of days). She can even go back to the beach. He gave us some piroxicam (an NSAID, so that should help with inflammation) and tramadol (to help control the pain).

He is going to discuss possible treatment options with the rest of the oncologists there at Vet Cancer Group and then we'll talk more later.

The other good news is that the Masitinib (which we've been trying to get her started on for a while now) should not only help with the tumors in her lungs, but it should also possibly help w/ the HO. So, Masitinib here we come again. Hopefully this 3rd time will be the charm!

So... like I said, it's not great news because she is in pain from it, but it's not as bad as the pain from bone cancer would be (which probably explains why she's still been trying to get me to play with her), AND she is not at risk for a fracture - which is a huge relief.

Hopefully we still have a lot more time with our girl. I had been thinking we might be down to our last few days and that she might never get to go to the beach again, but hopefully we'll have her a bit longer and she can go back to Fiesta Island soon (just want to try a few short neighborhood/park walks first and see how they go before turning her loose at the beach).

Thanks everyone for the good thoughts. I'll post more when I know more.

November 29, 2011

13 Months & Hoping for Good Luck

Today is Abby's hopefully LUCKY ampuversary #13! So far we haven't done too much to celebrate, as she is still having some lameness in her front leg.

In my last post I mentioned we went to see Dr. V. last week fearing the cancer had spread, but she was vastly improved by the time we got to the office and it seemed like it was just an overuse injury. Well, Tues and Wed last week we went on our little approved 10 minute walks and she seemed to be doing really well. But then Thanksgiving morning she was lame again (because these things ALWAYS happen on a holiday or weekend). At first I was afraid it was a bad reaction to the new pills we'd started (the Masitinib), but we went through the whole long weekend keeping her off the pills and she is still hobbling around - which isn't super easy on only 3 legs.

So, at this point it's either just a nagging injury, or the cancer has in fact spread. We are going for an X-ray tomorrow at 12.30 and then we'll know for sure. Please keep a good thought - or poke a cancer voodoo doll - for our girl. On the plus side: she still has a good appetite (in fact, when we went for the office visit last week she was the heaviest she's been since her amp - over 48lbs! Although their scale is a bit wonky, so not 100% sure that's right...); she gets up and goes outside to do her biz on her own; she still wants to play with me now and then and will go to her basket and pick out a toy; and she follows me into the kitchen after dinner at night to "help" with the clean up.

This weekend, to cheer her up, I got out the remaining Barney. You may recall that when we ordered Abby her very own Barney to kill, the nice folks threw in a spare "Beanie Barney" for free. I haven't really wanted to give him to her since he is full of beans (I mean that literally and not euphemistically), and I figured she'd destroy him, like she always does with her toys, and there'd be wee Barney beans everywhere. So far, though, she's been very gentle with him. When I first gave him to her, she got hold of his hand in her mouth and just hung out there with him like that for a while.

Yesterday I took her to the park to just get outside and enjoy some fresh air. She had a good time, but it was unfortunately short-lived as the Parks Dept. people showed up and started spraying pesticide. Nice.

Hope everyone had a lovely holiday weekend. Although I caught my bro's miserable cold, we had a nice Thanksgiving at his house eating way too much yummy food and playing with the "Santa Hat" app on my sister's iPhone:

In other news, we've been felting again. This time we made a Rio for one of my friends from
This was my first attempt at adding a mouth/tongue.
Such a good girl to not eat the mini-Rio!

I'll let you know what happens with the x-ray tomorrow. We are worried but trying not to freak out.

November 22, 2011

Abby Thanksgiving Everyone!

Boy, what an exhausting weekend. Abby gave us quite a scare starting Friday night when she tried to jump on our bed (like she does for a few minutes every night, before going off to her own bed) and almost didn't make it. I had to grab her and hoist her up. The next morning, she was having trouble walking. We had to carry her out to the living room and she kinda fell over into her bed. Then her back legs started shaking. I gave her a pain pill leftover from her surgery and she slept most of the day. We carried her when she needed to go out. Sunday she was still having trouble walking and her remaining front leg/paw looked a little swollen.

We considered taking her to the ER, but figured if the cancer had spread to her other leg, there wouldn't be much they could do for us anyway, so decided to just keep her quiet and resting as much as possible until we could get her in to see Dr. V. on Tuesday.

For the past three and a half days I've been chanting "overuse injury, overuse injury, overuse injury." It's weird when you HOPE that your dog has an injury - but when the alternative is the cancer has spread, you really do start to see things differently!

This morning she seemed a lot better and hopped in to her appointment like nothing was wrong. Dr. V. examined her and said it does indeed look like an overuse injury. We didn't do an x-ray, but he said the signs point to just an injury. He pushed on the bones around her wrist and she was fine – he said if it was the osteosarcoma spreading, even doing that would be painful for her. She only protested when he manipulated her wrist – so it looks like she tweaked it Friday night.

We have to keep an eye on her for a few more days and keep her a bit quiet and if she continues to improve, than it's all good. She is cleared for little 10 min walks in the neighborhood, but no beach and no vigorous play. We celebrated by meeting up with her daddy at the park across the street from his work and went for a little hop. She did great and seemed quite happy to be up and about again!!

We are also starting up the masitinib again. (I didn't give it to her over the weekend, just in case.) I gave her a 1/2 dose today and will continue that until Friday when we'll go to the full dose and see how she does.

We have a lot to be thankful for this holiday!!! Abby is thankful for turkey.
"This is for me, right?"

"Let me in there!"

We are going to my brother's house for Thanksgiving (and we can't wait because he is an awesome chef! I, on the other hand, am not. I've been assigned to bring things that we can't ruin: the booze and the relish plate. If there is a freak snow storm on the way there and we are stuck for days on the side of the road, we will have to survive on olives, pickles, Stone Brewery beer and wine. Luckily freak snow storms in San Diego are somewhat rare.) Anyway... whenever we don't host Thanksgiving, we like to have a small turkey of our own, because one of the best things about the holiday is the leftovers. So this year I ordered a smoked turkey. We've done this before and they are a wee bit salty eaten straight - but they make DELICIOUS leftovers. Mmmmm. I can't wait for smoked turkey chili! We already tore into it last night and had smoked turkey quesadillas for dinner.

In one other wee bit of news, my sis and I did some more felting - this time we attempted our first cat! We made a little Topi, my other sis's cat. Cats are hard! With their little pointy noses and their pointy ears and their superior attitude! We will probably stick to dogs from now on!
Hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving! May your turkeys be juicy, your pies plentiful, and your families functional!

November 17, 2011

Surprise: A Special Visitor!

Abby had a very special visit today - a doggy play date that we didn't even know was going to happen! My sis was planning to come by with her friend, and her friend brought her miniature Schnauzer pup, Zoey, along for a play date. Abby's never had a play date here with a dog she'd never met before, so I wasn't sure if she'd be territorial or what she would do. Here's the report, photo-journalist style:

There was a little standoffishness at first...

"Why is she sniffing my ear?"

But then they had a good time playing ball (really keep-away)...
...and chase...
...and hide n' seek
And more hide n' seek

Abby loves to play with dogs that are smaller than her. I think it's because they are less threatening, post amp. Anyway, it was a great unexpected surprise. I had been worrying because we only managed a quick 15 minute walk this morning, and I knew I would be in trouble later if my little beast didn't get more exercise than that!

Masitinib update: In my last post I mentioned we would be giving Masitinib a try. Well, she had her first dose (two 150mg pills) on Saturday, and about 5 hours later she, uh, expelled them rather rapidly... Since it was the weekend and we couldn't call her oncologist, we just took the rest of the weekend off from the pills. She recovered right away (just added a little canned pumpkin to her food) and still had tons of energy so she was completely fine. On Monday, I talked to the doc who said to try her on just one of the 150mg pills for a few days and as long as she's OK, then try going back to the full dose. So we've been doing that every day since and she's been doing great. We went to the beach yesterday and her energy was as abundant as usual - she ran and played for an hour and, even though it was really warm, she never laid down once. We'll try upping the dose again on Saturday and see if we get a better reaction this time!

A few more cute pics:
Daddy's home! Ah, bliss.

Kissing Elvis through the bars

Day-dreaming of the beach...

Real dreaming of the beach
What's next: Tomorrow we go pick up some additional Masitinib. We'll see how it goes when we try the full dose. Wish us luck!

November 11, 2011

Crazy Day, Crazy X-ray... (Cuz of 11.11.11?)

How is YOUR day? (Bear with me - this is gonna get long. And I want to stress, bear with me - not bare with me. You'll see why...)

My day started like this: (BTW... I know you just want to get to Abby's X-rays, but this sets the scene)
I hear my LOUD neighbors talking even louder than usual, so that I actually think, "Are they in my yard?" I get up from where I'm watching the news (which is the only spot in the whole house where I can't see their roof line) to find my neighbor crawling up NAKED onto the roof of his gazebo (presumably he crawled out of their hot tub, which is smack on the other side of our fence.) He was fighting with his wife (again - this is a common occurrence since they moved in a couple months ago...) and I guess you can make your point better from a higher vantage point. (My very funny friend said, "I personally don't have the confidence to go into battle naked, but it sounds like he's not saddled with such trivialities." Clearly, he's not.) Anyway, I opened the door and yelled, "Hello?!" while Abby ran out and barked like crazy at him. (Go, Abby!) He had the surprisingly good sense to actually look sheepish and get back down. (I feel I should also mention that we live on a canyon, so he was in full view of whomever might have been lucky enough to be standing in their backyard this morning.)

I was inside trying to calm down after the horror of all that, when I heard them yelling at each other again, this is with all the doors/windows closed, mind you. So I go outside and, standing in the middle of my yard, say, "I can hear you!" Finally they realized I was talking to them. She says, "But this is the first time we've been out here at this time." Like the time of day (8.30a.m.) was my issue. (Apparently they have no clue - because I'm quiet! - that I'm sitting in my office working most days, listening to them yell at each other.) I said, "I don't care what time of day it is, I hear you guys yelling at each other and cussing at each other all the time." Then I politely requested that I not see them naked anymore. She, again surprisingly, had the good sense to apologize.

After that I took Abby to the beach, hoping the sun, sand and sea would restore my frazzled spirits. It mostly did, except for when someone tried to run into me, but then when we got home, there was a super scary looking dude sitting in my yard. I thought he was with the movers across the street, but it turned out he's a buddy of my scary naked neighbor. It freaked me out a little that he was in my yard, so I went around and locked all the doors.

Before all this, I read an article this morning where some numerologist stated that because today is 11.11.11, it would be an extreme sort of day. If you were having a good day, it would be colossally good, and if you were having a bad day... well, you might as well go back to bed. So, I'm thinking before her appointment that her xrays are going to be terrible because I'm having such a crappy day. Then on the way there, another person tries to run into me (signals to change lanes into the right lane, but swerves left into MY lane instead).

Finally - the appointment news
At the appointment, I told Dr. V. we'd decided to go ahead with the X-rays and switch to Masitinib if it was bad news, but I asked him how we would decide what was "bad." He said if the mets were 25% larger, we'd make the switch. They take Abby in the back, and I'm seriously feeling like I'm going to throw up, and then he finally comes back and says, "Well, I don't know what we should do. Come look at these X-rays and we'll decide." He added, "Her mets are not acting like normal mets." Here's what we saw:

Boris: from some angles he was ~20% bigger (he went from ~4cm to ~5cm). From some angles, he didn't look much bigger at all. 

Natasha: from some angles she looked exactly the same (~2cm), from other angles she even looked smaller! (You know that Natasha, always trying to stay slim and sexy! "Does this lung make my ass look big?")

Dr. V. said he expected to see lots of dots all over. There were not lots of dots all over. So... if that was all that was going on in there, that would have been GREAT news and we would have just kept on with what we're doing. But...

There was a brand new met - and it went from non-existent to even bigger than Natasha (~3cm) in the past 4 months. Yes, Fearless Leader appears to have joined B&N in their quest to bring us down. But we are not giving up the fight! Oh no! We are going to try the Masitinib for a week and see how it goes. If she does well, we'll keep it up and if not, we go back to the cytoxan/artemisnin.

I asked what the goal is; should we just hope it keeps things stable. He said yes, that is the realistic goal - to keep them stable or slow them down. But, he said they could disappear.* He said he has not seen them disappear with osteosarcoma, but he has with other cancers. And since Abby's mets seem to not be acting like normal mets, who knows! She could be the miracle pup.

At any rate, the very good news is that he said, "She's not going anywhere anytime soon." :)

* For those of you on Tripawds, I said, "Oh I just read about a dog the other day on Tripawds whose mets disappeared." He said, "Yeah, we had a dog here. Lucky." Me: "Yeah! Lucky!" It turns out Dr. V. is Lucky's vet too! I had no idea! Going to have to PM them! Hopefully Abby will be "lucky" as well.

November 10, 2011

Keep a Good Thought Please

So, in the last post I mentioned we were trying to decide about doing the next set of X-rays. Well, we decided to go for it. Her appointment is tomorrow at 12:30. Hopefully we'll find that the routine we've been doing (artemisinin/Cytoxan) is working well and keep Boris & Natasha from starting a family/getting fat and happy. If that's the case, we just continue what we are doing. If, on the other hand, things don't look great in there, we'll abandon the current drug/artemisinin routine and try a new drug.

Geez, now I have that Huey Lewis & The News song stuck in my head... We do NOT want a new drug. We want to find that the drugs we are using are working. We'll see...

Please keep a good thought for us tomorrow. I'll let you know what happens. (Just realized I don't even have any new pics of Abby to post. Lame!)

November 3, 2011

My Big Weekend

Abby here. Mama said I could do the blog post today because she is busy. Mama says November is NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. To be all official-like, you have to sign up and post your progress. You are supposed to write ~1700 words/day but Mama is going rogue! She is doing her own thing with a friend and trying to get 1000 words done a day. Right now, Mama is doing laundry, making granola and working on her book all at the same time, so that leaves me to do the update.

I told Mama she should just stick a picture in her book, because 1 picture = 1000 words. Done for the day, and then she can play with me some more!

I am going to take my own advice and let the pictures tell the story:

Saturday, to celebrate my ONE YEAR ampuversary (Yah me!), we went to In-N-Out. 
The box says "animal fries" but it's not - it's my Flying Dutchman!

I got this flat pig. It squeaks. I hate that.
I tried to nap using Mama's shell of succulents as a pillow.

Sunday we had a big photo shoot with me in my Tripawd Warrior Princess cape and crown.
When we start TWP land, this'll be on the currency

Whaddya think? Cute? Yah, thanks. I know!

OK, enough adulation. I'm bored...
Then Mama put on my TWP outfit. She's so embarrassing.
In other news, we went to see my friend Dr. V. His dog, Hank was there. You might recall that Hank is was my boyfriend. The nice lady left me, Hank and Mama in the room together, and . . . this is hard for me to talk about . . . Hank gave Mama more kisses than me! WtH?? Whatever. There are a lotta other fish that lift their legs to pee. Or whatever that saying is. Anyway, after that two-timer left, Dr. V. came in and listened to my chest a long time - I think because he likes to hug me. He told Mama everything sounded just fine. (I guess he couldn't hear my broken heart!)

He talked to my Mama about taking pictures of me. He is weird. I know EVERYONE likes to take pictures of me, because I'm so beautiful, but he takes pictures of the INSIDES of me. Oh well, I guess it's because I am beautiful on the inside too! Mama is supposed to decide if she wants to see pictures of my insides again. If they look beautiful, than everything is good and I keep eating my spoonful of peanut butter and the little ball of braunschwager like usual. If they don't (which I doubt could happen) then Dr. V. said my Mama could try to give me something different in my little ball of braunschwager . I don't really care what they put in there, as long as it doesn't make my tummy hurt and as long as the ball of braunschwager keeps comin'! Anyway, I'm pretty sure the pictures would be beautiful. I don't take bad pictures!
I'm outta here. Kisses everypawdy!

P.S. from The Mama: we are trying to decide about the x-rays. If we look, and Boris and Natasha are being held at bay/not partying in there, then we'd happily keep doing what we've been doing. On the other hand, if we find that B&N are being bad renters and sub-letting space to all their stupid friends (do B&N have friends?) then we could drop all the stuff we are currently doing (cytoxan/piroxicam and our 'ancient Chinese secret', artemisinin) in favor of trying another at-home chemo drug, Masitinib. It is supposed to be similar to Palladia, but Dr. V. said he's seen dogs that do poorly on one do well on the other, so just because the Palladia didn't agree with her doesn't mean the Masitinib won't either. I was leaning toward not looking and just being blissfully ignorant, BUT...  a woman on Tripawds the other day posted that her dog's lung mets disappeared (!!!) after three months on Palladia. That kinda makes me wanna try the Masitinib. And, who knows, if the x-rays show that our current protocol is effective, we might not even need to try it. We'll see. Of course, I'll keep y'all posted. Now, back to work!