February 1, 2011

Super-Model Dog

Not much is new with Abby this week, although I can happily report that she seems to have bounced back very quickly after not feeling so great post her last chemo. She's been full of energy (maybe a little too much energy) and very much her usual puppy self the past few days. We took her to Fiesta Island this weekend (aka: her favorite place in the world) and she had a great time. I also got a new camera this weekend -- primarily for taking better pictures of her (she moves so quickly and my old camera was so slow, I was always missing shots of her) and for trying to take better pictures of the sunsets we've been having (of course, ever since I got the camera, the sunsets haven't been super exciting). 

The Humane Society has a calendar that they put out every year with pictures from contest winners. I've sent in pictures of Bailey in the past, but most of the dogs that "win" are rescue dogs or have some sort of story. Well, we are thinking this might be our year: a rescue dog, with cancer, AND it helps that she's like the Gisele Bündchen of dogs (super slim, gorgeous, and with that poutty/serious expression the camera loves!). 

So, in place of much news on Abby, I give you a whole mess o' pictures - and even a wee video I made from some shots. (OK, I admit the video is not exactly Oscar-worthy, but I wanted to play with the camera/video software...) (P.s. If you want to see any picture larger, just click on it.)
She met an Anatolian Shepherd...

...he out-weighed her by 2.5 times
She mostly held her own...

Then tried to hide behind Daddy
Cricket anyone?
Downtown waaaaay in the background

Love this action shot with ears & paw up

She loves getting dried off...
...here she is smiling to prove it. 

January 25, 2011

Abby's In Love...

Dr. Vancil's dog, Hank, was at the cancer clinic again today. He came running out from the back to see Abby, all wiggly and excited. They are clearly in love, as evidenced in this photo, which is so cute I decided to make it LARGE. (Apparently Abby had Hank pinned when they were playing in the back after her treatment. I'm certain he was letting her win, since not only is he much bigger than her, he's got a spare leg!) Hopefully he'll be there again next time she goes. 

[Dang. Abby just threw up. This same thing happened after her last treatment: as soon as I started writing on the blog, I had to take a break to go clean up. Maybe she doesn't like the blog?? Anyway, I'm thankful for the wood floors here at the new house, instead of carpet like the old place!] 

Abby was supposed to have had a follow-up x-ray today, to see if that tiny spot on her lung had grown. Dr. Vancil and I talked about the pros and cons of taking the x-ray or waiting another 2 weeks. The thinking was that if the spot was obviously bigger, we'd possibly not have done her final treatment of carboplatin and switched to some other drug. He said ideally you want to re-xray 1 month to 6 weeks out, and we were just short of 1 month, so we decided to wait. I was worried that if we took it today, it would be hard to tell if it was clearly bigger or not. I think waiting was the right decision.

[Dang! She just threw up again. She's never thrown up twice, so, another first: I just gave her one of the nausea pills they gave me after her first session. Had to really coax her to take it with some peanut butter. Poor baby. She seems to be feeling a little puny.]

I told Dr. V. about how tired she was the few days after her last treatment, and he said that happens sometimes -- the dog will breeze through the first batch of treatments but by the 5th or 6th, the cumulative effect starts to hit them. [I guess that is what's happening with her and the nausea as well. Hopefully she'll eat her dinner after a bit...] 

Dr. V. checked her out today and said her lungs and heart sound great. She's also maintaining her weight, which is good. They take blood every time she goes to see how her white count is doing (it's always been great), but last time they took extra blood and sent it out to the lab to make sure the chemo isn't messing with her liver and whatnot. He showed me the results they got back, and how all the indicators were basically ideal. He said she's very healthy . . . if only it weren't for that minor little cancer thing!

So, you all will just have to keep those positive thoughts coming for another 2 weeks until we get that x-ray. In the meantime, once she feels better, we'll have to do something to celebrate her final chemo! (At least, the final one for now...)

January 21, 2011

Not-So-New Toys

Abby got some new toys this week, which she made short work of. (Guess I should say "of which she made short work" - but does anybody really talk that way?)


This little blue noseless koala came from her Aunt Terry, who brought a bag full of toys over for me to donate the next time I'm at Helen Woodward. Terry opened the bag and offered Abby the chance to select one. Abby, being no dummy, crammed 3 toys into her mouth. In the end, Terry convinced her the koala was enough. Abby immediately de-squeakerized and defufferized him, through the nose. (Looks like he's trying to scream, but that's impossible since his larynx was torn out.)

Also screaming is this little red crazy-looking ball-monster-thing that my friend Gayle brought by for Abby yesterday. At one time, he had a little tuft of hair on the top of his head, but that was the first to go. As you can see in the last picture, she also chewed off one of his feet - think she was trying to make him a tripawd.

Speaking of tripawds, we went to Fiesta Island today and met another front-amp doggy with osteosarcoma. He was a big, white 14-year-old (!) shepherd of some sort and seemed very sweet. He was wearing a life jacket and swimming. His momma said he doesn't get around so well running anymore (poor guy; they were very impressed with how well Abby was hopping about) but she said he still loves to swim. Abby pretty much totally ignored him, so she obviously didn't get that they had something in common. I wish I'd had my camera along as they looked pretty cute. I'd taken my iPod Nano along to take some video, but the stupid battery died, so no video - which is a bummer because she and her friend Dakota were running like maniacs. And, happily, she did not get so worn out today like she did the last time. We went even further than usual and, although she did flop down once to rest, she seemed plenty spunky the whole way. She seems to be totally back to her old self!

I'll post again Tuesday after last round of chemo and her x-ray. Fingers, toes and paws crossed!

January 19, 2011

Worrying Some More - Maybe for Nothing...

Sorry about the delay in posting, but we've been extremely busy. And that business is sort of directly related to my worrying about Abby. 

Last Tuesday, as I mentioned earlier, we started doing some work on the new house. This crazy SOLID wall (made of concrete blocks, rebar, the works - maybe they wanted to build a bunker at one time??) ran diagonally across what will now be our "great room," so we had that bad boy torn down (involving much jackhammering, sledgehammering, etc.). Because it was so noisy here all week -- and very stressful for Abby, who started following me everywhere -- I really made an effort to keep her out of the house. Here are a few pics of our not-very-exciting adventures:

Wednesday we went to the dog park in the a.m., ran a TON of errands, and had a picnic lunch in the park. (Well, I had lunch anyway. Abby had a pine cone. Reminds me of that old Grape Nuts commercial: "Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible." Really? Many parts??)
Thursday we ran still more errands, went to visit our friend Mazli-pictured on the left, and met up with Dakota at Fiesta Island. Abby had a great time running after Dakota (who is super speedy) and playing with all the other pooches there. But then she crashed in the wet sand, as illustrated below. We couldn't even walk the whole way along the bay like we usually do; had to turn back early because there was no way I was going to be able to carry her almost-50lb.-completely-unwieldy body out of there!
By Friday morning when we went on our walk, we hadn't even made it half way along our usual route when she flopped down in the middle of the street (no sidewalks on that stretch, so we had been walking on the side of the road). Had to literally drag her out of the way as a car was coming!

We turned to go back home and she "teeped over," as we say, several more times--resting in spots on driveways, under trees, anywhere where she could find some shade. I should mention, it's been really hot here lately -- almost like summer. I was really worried about her, having so little stamina and just seeming not at like her usual high-energy self, but I think it was just the combination of: three almost full days of being constantly on the go, plus the noise when we would be at home, plus the heat, plus maybe some cumulative effect of five chemo treatments. 

After I dragged her home from the walk Friday, I took her to her Aunt Terry and Uncle Jon's so she could have some peace and quiet (with occasional diversions of pestering her cousin, Corgi Lou, and a visit with lots of kisses from the neighbor, Sue) while I went furniture shopping. Over the weekend we tried to keep her a little quieter than usual, although Saturday night we did take her for a nice hop through downtown La Jolla (where our tripawd was stared/smiled at by many and loved on by a few) and then Sunday we went to Fiesta Island where, again, she couldn't quite walk the whole way. I was still a little worried about her after that, but then Tuesday night she really seemed to be back to her old spunky ways. We went for a pretty good walk last night after Mike got home, and even after that she came home and was running wind sprints out in the backyard -- trying to get her stamina back up I guess. 

And I'm happy to report that on our walk this a.m. (which was foggy and kind of chilly) she hopped along like her old self.

Next up is the final chemo session on this coming Tuesday -- and the big re-check of the lung x-ray. Please keep a good thought that the little spot on her one lung will not be any bigger! Stay small, Stupid Spot!!!

January 11, 2011

Chemo #5

Wait, isn't that the title of a song? Oh no, that's Mambo #5... Anyway, today was Abby's penultimate chemo session. Dr. Vancil talked to me some more about that single spot on her lung. He said that at first the radiologist told him she didn't see anything, but then he convinced her there was something small there. (Oh damn.We interrupt this post to go clean up. Abby just threw up... That's weird - other than the time she threw up the popcorn, she's been fine every time after chemo. Poor baby.)

Anyway, back to the spot... Dr. Vancil said he talked to the other oncologists in the group (the Vet Cancer Group has several offices in So Cal, so it's nice - it's like getting 2nd and 3rd opinions without having to go see anyone else). They all agreed with his advice, which is to stay the course. He said usually the only options are: upping the dose (but we are already using the max); increasing the frequency (but we're already doing every 2 weeks instead of every 3); or trying another drug. Right now we are using Carboplatin. He said there's no reason to change when there's no guarantee another drug would work any better, and when we don't even know for sure if the spot is a tumor. He said, "it could be anything." (But, of course, I have a bad feeling about it.)

Next time we go, he'll take another x-ray and he'll also have the original one there from our vet. Then we can compare all three side by side. He said it's possible the original slide won't show anything, but that doesn't necessarily mean it wasn't there. He has a super new, turbo-charged machine and who knows how old the machine at the vet's office is. So... we'll see what happens on the 25th. Best case, it just looks the same. If it's way bigger, then we'll see. 

All in all, Dr. V said she's doing great, and he thought she looked like she'd gotten bigger and more muscular. According to their scale, she'd gained 1 1/2 pounds, but it's hard to know if that's accurate since she was totally wiggly the last time we weighed her there. Hopefully she really did gain some weight. Dr. V. said it's rare that you get a dog that does that during chemo!

In more fun news, Dr. Vancil's dog, Hank, was at the office today - a 10-year-old Weimaraner and 3 year cancer-survivor. While I left Abby there for her treatment and went out to run errands, Hank and Abby had a little play session, which Dr. V recorded for me on his phone. Abby was all over Hank. Wish I had some of my own pics to post of them playing! So cute. Dr. V. said he's going to save the video to show to people who come in and are worried about having to perform an amp on their dog. I told him he could point them to my blog as well!

January 9, 2011

A Couple of Firsts

Today, we took Abby for her first hike since her surgery. Her stamina seems to be pretty good, probably from all the walking in our new neighborhood with its hills! Admittedly, today's hike was pretty easy - nice and flat - but the terrain was very uneven/rocky from all the rain we've had and we walked for almost an hour. We hiked in Rose Canyon, which is pretty much right in the heart of San Diego. This is one of the things I love about San Diego - you can be right in the middle of the city's burbs but feel like you're out in the country somewhere. (Of course, you can sometimes hear the freeway noise, but you just have to tune that out.)

As you can see from some of the pictures, there was still quite a bit of water from all the rain!

In another first, we found out the other day that Abby can still "shake"! After her surgery, I figured she wouldn't be able to do that anymore. Abby knows very few 'commands': Sit, Leave it! (had to use this one about 3000 times when we'd go on walks when she was a little puppy), Down, and Shake. (She also hears "Off!" a lot, but either doesn't know it or chooses to ignore it. I'm thinking it's the latter...) So, with really only knowing four commands, I was bummed that she wouldn't be able to shake anymore--figured that was a 25% drop in her vocabulary! But the other day we had some folks over, and I made her sit to get a treat, and then said, "I guess it was a waste of time teaching her to shake!" and when she heard the word, she sat up and held out her paw. So cute! And it's the "wrong" paw, so she figured out to offer the only front paw she had left. So smart!

We continue to be so impressed with her! 
Coming up on Tuesday is chemo #5 - the penultimate session. I'm hoping to learn more about that damn spot when I talk to Dr. Vancil that day. Will post post her appointment. (At least - I hope I will... We are having a destruction crew here that day. Could be a bit crazy, what with the concrete wall in our living room coming down! Anyway, I'll definitely post again soon!)

January 3, 2011

Perfect Presents for Tripawd Parents

Happy New Year everyone! Hope 2011 brings good things for all. We had a nice NY's weekend. Had some folks over to the new house, did some good relaxing (even though Mike had some sort of bug), and took Abby for a long walk on Sunday at Fiesta Island. She was a maniac down there: racing around, chasing birds, playing with other dogs. No less than three people (the number three is really becoming a "thing" with us) commented on how impressive she was, zipping around, cutting back and forth like crazy on her three legs. (Unfortunately, I forgot my Nano, so have no video of it... Next time!)

Anyway, wanted to do a quick post about the presents Mike and I got each other for Christmas. He got me a ring from Fred Meyer Jewelers:

Yes, it's got three paws on it. How perfect is that? It's billed as being a ring to "show off the love you have for your four-legged extended family members," and yet, it doesn't actually have four feet on it. It's so much better for showing off the love you have for your THREE-legged extended family members!

For Mike, I got a telescope - which just happened to come with a tripod. So, here's the tripawd with the tripod. Cute, no?

If you happen to know any other tripawd parents, you now know the perfect presents for them!