Cherish today, for who knows what tomorrow may bring

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In summary, we are disappointed after our met check but trying to focus on the positives. On thoracic radiographs today Grover did not have evidence of lung tumors/metastases but he did have a lytic mass on a rib that is consistent with another osteosarcoma.

Putting a positive spin on it, the oncologist told me that in retrospect the radiologists can find the lesion on his radiographs and CT before surgery (it has grown since and is much more obvious) and so technically this means that he does not have any new lesions which is good news. I am honestly glad that they did not identify this as a tumor before surgery because it may have been the straw that steered us away from amputation and no matter what, I am SO glad that we did the amputation because it has bought him truly  happy weeks. I do not know what this means for us long-term. Today he started radiation for the rib to try and slow the growth and we are forging forward with chemotherapy because he did not have lung tumors, so maybe the chemo is doing its job there. She would not have expected the chemotherapy to do much for the tumor in the rib.

Yesterday, in timely fashion, Grover reminded me that we should not waste today borrowing troubles from the future. He insisted on going potty outside, at the exact time of this beautiful sunset and threw himself on the grass. I stopped to sit with him and we watched the sun setting over the hills. I was reminded that regardless of what the radiographs say, tomorrow is never a guarantee. All we can really count on is the moment that we are in so we better enjoy it. #bemoredog

Then an off leash dog came whizzing by, startled us both, and I had to take off running after the three legged dog who it turns out could get up quicker than me. 🙂

We all (owners, veterinarians, etc.) do the best that we can do, with the resources and knowledge that we have, in the moment we are in … and that’s all we can ever ask of ourselves or others.


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Making lemonade

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As summer comes to an end and fall rapidly descends upon us, I was grateful for the opportunity to take advantage of the beautiful weather.

Friday was 14 days after our second dose of chemotherapy (carboplatin). Based on the very low number of neutrophils and the extended time to return to normal our oncologist lowered the dose this time around. Kill the cancer, not the dog. We never saw a significant drop in his neutrophils this time around — the good news is it meant that we had this long weekend to enjoy out and about rather than staying “quarantined”. The “bad” news is that if the carboplatin didn’t affect his bone marrow, it may not have had as significant of an impact on the cancer. In an effort to “be more dog” we are focusing on the good — we had a chance to share these beautiful moments and make these wonderful memories.

We also appreciated our Ruffwear gear SO MUCH this weekend. As an owner of a large breed dog I am used to Larges or XLs still being much too small. Not with Ruffwear! Their harnesses fit well AND are functional. The harness really came in handy this weekend to help give G a “boost” up banks and ledges.

Throwback Thursday

#throwbackthursday seems like a good excuse to remember some of the fun times over the past 9+ years … we’ve been lucky to share these moments together and nothing will ever take this away from us.

On our way home on adoption day. Grover is my first  (and so far only)  dog “on my own” … neither of us had any idea what we were getting into! haha.

Playing in the Michigan snow

 

He doesn’t like every dog, but my friends dog Bella was his bff through school … watching Grey’s Anatomy I’m sure haha.

Enjoying Lake Michigan

Lake MI sunsets are pretty amazing

 

 

Living life with chemo

I am constantly humbled by Grover’s resiliency (and the resiliency of dogs in general). Grover’s white blood cell count came up just a few days late to hit the 3 week mark for chemo and is now successfully into round 2. To be honest — we hardly notice a difference, except that he wont eat kraft singles or peanut butter (which we usually hide his pills in) for about 5 days after. From our first chemo administration we learned that we have about 7-9 days before his neutrophils will drop and we need to be careful about where he goes and what germs he may encounter … so we lived up those 7 days.

I took Grover back out to our favorite hiking spot — Kamiak butte. I knew that we wouldn’t be able to climb to the top, but there is a grassy park just off the parking lot and I thought that the fresh air would do us both good. I never really knew if Grover actually liked hiking or if I liked hiking and he, as my constant companion, just went along. Well … I learned, that in fact he likes the hiking. I had to use his harness handle to physically drag all 45 kg of him off the trail that heads UP the butte. Twice. He finally took to the flat trails and at his insistence (i.e. refusing to go back) he hopped a total of 0.7 miles. Like a small child he will LITERALLY throw himself onto the ground, rolling in the grass, and refuse to get up if you try and turn him back before he thinks he is ready. Which, in this chapter of life we find hilarious and relish in his enthusiasm.

We have a met check coming in two weeks and initially I found myself “wishing it would hurry up and get here” so that I would know. So that I would know if we will qualify for the clinical trial we are hoping to get in. So that I would know if chemo was working. So that I would “know” if I could predict more time. And then, Grover reminded me to “be more dog”. Why waste these blissful 3 weeks — 21 days — 504 hours — 30,240 minutes — “hurrying up” to find out some information. Enjoy these moments. The sunsets and sunrises. The wind in his ears. His grass rolling temper tantrums. Car rides to get ice cream. Simply being together. That moment — the met check — will come regardless and  we have no control over the results. But, we can control taking advantage of the our time together now.

The wheat fields are harvested … but it’s still a beautiful view.

I have no words for this goofy boy sometimes 🙂

Week 3 Post-Op: Finding our groove

Relief at last. Trazadone brought us all a night of sleep. I’m amazed how much clearer one can think, how less dramatic things seem and calmer the world feels with sleep.

The next two nights we left the lights and TV on and had two more successful nights of sleep and good days and then … back to our normal routine.

We were hoping for an official consult with the behaviorist this week but chemo finally kicked Grover’s white blood cell’s in the butt. If we didn’t check his blood work we would never know — which is a good thing! Day 7 post chemo his white blood cell (WBC) count was completely normal. Day 9 his WBC, neutrophil and platelet counts were very low. I didn’t know things could change so quickly.

We learned that the chemo (carboplatin) targets rapidly dividing or growing cells, such as neoplastic or cancer cells. But, there are other rapidly dividing cells that are important that also get targeted — such as the bone marrow which makes the white blood cells and platelets. We hope that if the chemo is kicking his white blood cells it’s also kicking the cancer cell butts too!

With low WBCs and neutrophils (which we learned are particularly important for defending our dogs from infection) we need to be careful about limiting Grover’s exposure to potential pathogens or infections. Basically it means we need to avoid strange dogs, avoid going to the hospital unless it’s a real emergency (sadly, including rehab … Grover’s going to be sad he’s missing out on jacuzzi time!) and avoid outside places where he might be tempted to eat or drink things (i.e. the park) until his neutrophils rebound. We are also taking his temperature twice a day to keep a close watch for fevers, which would indicate we need to start antibiotics.

The good news is that there’s plenty of fun that we can have at home now that he is comfortable, happy and (we are all) sleeping well.

A super picture that was sent to me by two amazing  vet students as “proof of wellness” from inside the ICU one night when Grover was particularly whining/panting/restless and I panicked he could have had a GDV. We feel very lucky to have them as part of our team — it’s so comforting to know he has such good friends even when I can’t be with him. (Posted with student permission)

Luckily, even though we are “home bound” we can still enjoy the beautiful evenings and last bit of summer. You can tell by the golden hill in the back that wheat harvest is coming soon!