Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hoppy Christmas!

The Christmas Holiday at our house was terrific, and Nova was the life of the party. I continue to be amazed at her pawsitive attitude and enthusiasm for life. You would never know that this dog has cancer. Her appetite is up, in fact she "tells" me when it's time to eat, and gobbles it all up, and sometimes even steals Emmy's food, which is unheard of. We went to the local vet Friday for her 7-10 day post carboplatin CBC and just like last time, all was perfect. She entertained the technicians there with a particularly stinky bout of gas, they were all laughing because it was so obvious she had been loading up on holiday treats. Another nice surprise is that skeletal Nova has actually gained 5 lbs since the last visit (she was 103, now is 108). My intention is not to bulk her up too much, but everyone agrees she could use a little more meat on her bones.

Here she is with her pretty Christmas collar, surrounded by some of her new toys from Santa:

Everyone agrees that nothing about her looks "sick". She is really back to her old goofy, snugglebunny self. Sometimes I forget, and then am reminded when I walk in with her at the vet. Suddenly everyone in the waiting rooms starts looking at us with sad eyes, whispering, afraid to ask what happened to her leg, but obviously they are dying to know! You can just see it go through people's heads, thinking, "wow, that poor dog, I wonder if she is dying, no she can't be dying because her owner is smiling and joking, and the dog is wagging her tail so much that her butt is wiggling like a hula dance, nah, it must have just been an accident." People who get up the nerve to ask are always astounded when I tell them about the osteosarcoma. What surprises me the most is that a large percentage of people I've talked to (this is in a vet's office, mind you, so these are people who have pets themselves) seem almost puzzled that I would go to the trouble of making my dog "suffer" through an amputation, treatment, chest x-rays, blood tests, etc. after getting a diagnosis of osteosarcoma. Like I should have just put her to sleep or something, or let her hobble around in pain until it was too much and then put her to sleep. I just don't get it. Nova is not suffering, and I am so thankful each day that I made the decision to do this. That's why I like to visit the Tripawds site regularly, where I can read about all sorts of other "like-minded" dog lovers who "get it".

Ok, here are some Christmas highlight pictures. Nova really enjoyed opening her presents. For years I have always wrapped dog presents in tissue paper, so that they are easy to open. They know from the sound of the paper that the present is for them! One year a relative sent some gifts wrapped in tissue paper, and I found it shredded open under the tree. If it's not a stuffed animal, bone, or something edible, they will just leave it!

Ben is giving Nova a hand here in getting one of her first presents open:

Nova's favorite gift appeared to be this mini stuffed Lion "rug" that I got at Costco. She kept snuggling up with it all day:
Someone for Nova to snuggle with when her sister is not handy!
Nova likes Dane-sized toys, which are often hard to find. She also took a liking to Emmy's Bear "rug". The girls had a blast opening presents:
Lots of meat treats like dried lamb filets and Texas Toothpicks (pig tails), just look at the smorgasbord of delightful, tasty treats!
Christmas dinner for the girls was canned Merrick "Working Dog Stew", which drives them bananas when I open the can. I have to hold my breath when I do it. It wins the award for being the absolute stinkiest dog food in the world, compliments of it's primary ingredient, green TRIPE. UGGGGHHH! To Nova tripe is like chateaubriand!
So much fun stuff!

By the end of the day the girls were exhausted and snuggled up in one of their other signature snuggle poses, the "Yin Yang".

Emmy makes an excellent chin rest for Nova:

Just yesterday (Saturday) after I fed Nova dinner (which she wolfed down), she started making these strange sounds, like there was something in her throat. We had just returned from going to see Marley and Me at the movies, and in the movie Marley's stomach twisted just like Nova's had back in 2007. Of course Marley died at the end, so I was bawling my eyes out and wanting to come home and give my girls big hugs and kisses. And now Nova started making these sounds that had me all stressed that the cancer had spread to her lungs. It's hard not to have these freak-outs about every little thing. I posted a question on Tripawds and quickly received reassurance. I called the emergency number at the oncologist anyway, and after a nice discussion it seemed that Nova was just having a bout of reverse sneezing. Of course by the time I called the Doctor she had stopped making the sounds and was resting with her happy tail going. Isn't that the way it always works, with dogs AND kids!

I noticed another post on Tripawds this morning from the owner of a mastiff named Titan that I had been following awhile back. Titan's owner was recommending a chest x-ray, apparently she recently found out that the cancer had spread to his lungs and he had bouts of reverse sneezing too. This threw me for a loop big time because Titan's and Nova's amputations and treatments were only a few weeks apart. I was so sad that the chemo was not working for Titan, and of course I was concerned about Nova. I think for now I am going to wait until the scheduled chest x-ray on January 7th. The ups and downs of all this dog drama are so excrutiating. I find it so hard to read the "bad news" stories, but feel I have to in order to prepare for the inevitable. I just hope the inevitable doesn't happen for a very long time!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Little Tripawd Holiday Cheer

Don't you just love the holidays? Being that I am still recovering, it's been great for me because there has been a lot of activity at the house, like presents and food and visitors. Last Friday the kids had a snow day and now they are off school so I am getting love and attention from all directions. It's great. I really haven't felt bad at all, even though I just had that treatment at the Doctor last Wednesday. Mom is very happy about that.
Mom's been doing a lot to get ready for Christmas, so I have been following her around to see what she's doing (I am very nosy!)

There is one thing about all the Christmas preparations that I would like to change, though. You see, Mom listens to Christmas music when she is working and there is only so much Johnny Mathis and Dean Martin I can take. So I came up with an idea. I asked Mom to come up with a good Tripawd Christmas song. She said ok, but that she wasn't that good at writing songs, so it might be a little silly. But after another nice glass of vino, she sang me this ditty, which (in my opinion) totally beats those "Crooner Christmas" songs hands down:

(Sing to the tune of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer")

You know Tazzie and Titan and Buster and Cherry…
Zeus and Calamity, Kali and Jerry…

But do you recall….

The goofiest big dog Tripawd of all?

Nova, the Tripawd Dane-Deer
Gets around on just 3 paws
To her, the gift of living
Is the best gift from Santa Claus

Three legs took some getting used to
Nova’d often hang her big head
Even some jerk at the Doctor
Thought she should go to Heaven instead

Losing a leg is not so sad
Nova would say it ain’t half bad
More treats and snacks are coming her way
Lots of loving and snuggling every day

All of the other Tripawds
Cheer her on with big “Hoorays!”
Nova, the Tripawd Dane-Deer,
You’ll have many, many more days!

This song really put me in the holiday spirit, most of all because it's about ME! I wanted to share with you some of the other things that Mom and I have been doing. First, we put on my reindeer antlers and took a bunch of silly pictures.

"You Better Watch Out..."

"Yeah, I'm a 3-legged Dane-Deer, you got a problem with that??"

"Don't forget to shop for MEEEEE this Christmas!"

I love to sing my new Christmas song to my sister Emmy:

I'm a Tripawd Dane-Deer, and dang proud of it!

"What do you mean you forgot to put Fish Skins and Texas Toothpicks on my Christmas List, Mom?"


Hey, check out what I found under the tree today. So exciting! I can't wait!

See, there are ornaments on the tree with everyone's pictures. This was me when I was a big goofy puppy:

And here is a special ornament we just got this year, this is my Tripawd inspiration, Jerry G. Dawg.

Ok, well it's time to run (I mean HOP) right now to see what else Mom is up to. I'm sure we will be back with more updates after Christmas and when we go for my next CBC at the vet on Friday.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Everything is Great!

I took Nova back to the Cancer Center yesterday for her second round of Carboplatin. I recall the last time I was there 3 weeks ago I was handfeeding her ice cubes because she wouldn't drink. It was thrilling to see how much she had improved in 3 weeks. That morning she ate a big breakfast, and had several drinks of water. She still has that Kate Moss thing going though. I am trying to feed her as much as she will eat, but she just wants breakfast and dinner and a snack or two in between.

Anyway, they ran some tests first to see if she was ready for the treatment. Her white count was a touch low, but not so low that they couldn't do the treatment. Dr. O said that sometimes it is common for the white count to drop later after a treatment rather than the 7-10 days they usually expect it to drop. For some reason she put Nova back on an antibiotic (amoxicillin) just to catch any infection that might crop up (she still has itchy ears). I really don't know how that ties in with a low white count, but for some reason I failed to ask or understand what she told me.

I asked Dr. O my laundry list of questions, which this time was not as long as usual. First, I asked about the yelping that Nova has been doing here and there. She gave Nova a once over and agreed with me that there did not seem to be any sore spots anywhere. She said that it is very common for amputees to have phantom pains, and this is very likely what she is experiencing. Unfortunately we have to guess at that since dogs can't tell us exactly what hurts, but that will have to do for now. On a positive note, Nova has not yelped at all for the past few days.

Going to the Doctor always means waiting:

There were also 2 small cyst looking things, each about the size of a marble, one on the top of her right thigh and the other on her back up by her neck. My regular vet had checked these awhile back and said they were nothing to worry about. Dr. O took a sample of each and they turned out to be harmless sebaceous cysts full of pimply material. Ewww. She said that they may burst at some point or abcess, which is exactly what happened to Nova last year with one on her back. It just kept getting bigger and bigger (the kids called it the "Volcano") and the vet said it would eventually burst. Which of course it did one morning as she jumped into bed with my 12-year-old son Ben who started screaming that "Nova's volcano is erupting!" all over his precious American Eagle outfit. Hee hee.

Dr. O also told me that Nova was a perfect "poster child" for amputees and that they had taken a bunch of pictures of her for training purposes. Of course I was like, "Gee, I'd love to see those pictures" but they are actually pretty graphic surgical pictures and things like demonstrations on how to insert a spinal catheter. Uhhhh... no thanks, I will pass on that. She commented on how terrific Nova's attitude was and that she has had a wonderful recovery. The road is apparently not as easy for most dogs. I realize that and am so thankful that Nova has been doing so well.

Her incision is looking great! Check it out:

The only thing about it that bothers me is that her hair is growing back VERY slowly! So she still looks naked on her incision side. Dr. O said that the hair would grow back faster after we finish up the Carboplatin in February. So Nova will not have her fur when she needs it most (she still wears her fleece coat, we just took it off at the Doctor).

During the time the administered the Carbo (they do it in the back so I am not allowed to watch) I ran out to shop at the nearby REI and running store, and made it back a little after she was done. She was standing out in the parking lot with the techinician, who was laughing. She said that Nova really, really had to go potty, but she wouldn't go to the designated area because there was snow there. So she was pacing and supposedly waiting for Mommy. Well, I took her right over there and she jumped right in to the snow and took one of those 10-minute Niagra Falls pees immediately. She is such a Mommy's girl!

It's amazing how I now take time to notice little things. One thing that was really sweet was that I found Emmy and Nova yesterday curled up in their signature butt-to-butt sleeping pose. This is really the first time since the surgery that I have seen them snuggle together. Emmy has been so stand-offish, like she noticed that something was wrong or different with Nova, and figuredshe needed to stay away. It was so nice to see them snuggle up like sisters again.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

One Month Ampuversary!

Today is Nova's one month Ampuversary! It is so amazing how far she has come in one month. She is really back to her old self, aside from hopping rather than walking. The only thing that bothers me is it is taking FOREVER for her hair to grow back. So she still looks naked. I wonder if it will even grow back entirely.

Occasionally I will hear a yelp of two from her, really makes my heart stop when I hear it. It's hard to figure out what the help is about. Each time it has happened there really isn't anything I can trace it to. Maybe she just gets weird phantom pains or something. She doesn't appear to have any sore spots anywhere. Every time she yelps, she runs to cuddle with me, tail wagging, like "Mom, I don't know what that was, but I know if I can get to you, I am safe." I will mention it to the vet when we go back for more Carboplatin next Wednesday.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Going to See Santa

Today Mom and I were feeling in the Christmas spirit, so she helped me into my cozy new fleece jacket and we headed into Fenton in the snow for the "Jinglefest". The big attraction for us Mom and me was that a Fenton-area vet was offering an opportunity for pets to get their pictures taken with Santa. How exciting!

This was my first big trip out since I became a Tripawd (other than my many, many trips to the vet), so it was lots of fun to get back in the business of being fawned over and petted by all sorts of people. It was a really snowy day, and as we slid down the streets of downtown Fenton, I heard Mom grumbling something about how she wished we qualified for handicapped parking (with me being a Tripawd and all). I think she was worried I would have trouble getting up the snow piled up along the curb.

Wouldn't you know, a spot opened up just 3 cars down from Santa's tent, so Mom swiped it in no time (I am pretty sure she was NOT supposed to do a u-turn like that.) We got out and I could tell Mom was tense and worried that I would slip on the slick roads. Nope! I just jumped out and hopped right to the sidewalk. I even scaled the piled up snow on the curb, piece of cake! I was going really fast, I really wanted to get to Santa. Across the street there was a big chili-cookoff going on in front of the Firehouse, and all these people were pointing at me and looking at me. On the short walk to the tent we got stopped 5 times by people who wanted to pet me and to find out where my leg went. I gave everyone all the snuggles they wanted, but I just wanted to get it done so I could go see Santa.

A local vet was offering pictures with Santa for a $10 donation to Leader Dog for the Blind. Plus, they will send Mom a disk of all the pictures they take, print out one nice one for Mom, and then let Mom take as many pictures as she wanted to with her own camera. What a good deal, Mom always loves to help Leader Dogs for the Blind. Everyone paid a ton of attention to me, and again, everyone was asking for details about my leg. I was definitely stopping traffic, cars were slowing down as they passed. Hey, I am used to getting gawked at, but it was as if these people had never seen a Tripawd before.

Mom spent a lot of time talking to people about amputations, cancer, etc. Then I saw a familiar face, it was Mrs. Skinner, one of the other moms from Cross Country who would always pet me at the meets. At first she didn't realize I was now a Tripawd, she reached over to pet me and I think was shocked to see I only had 3 legs. Last time she saw me in October, I had 4. Of course Mom had to tell her the whole dang story (it's getting old) which made Mrs. Skinner start to tell a story about HER dog that died last year. HEY, let's not talk about dying, okay, right now I am LIVING!

Santa was soon ready for me and it took a little time to get comfortable. There were lots of cords everywhere and I got my foot stuck in a few while I was trying to get close to Santa. Plus, I was nervous. It's always exciting to go see Santa, but when you get there, sometimes you get nervous, you know? Santa asked me to sit, and I looked at him like he was crazy. Mom explained to him that I really don't sit much, that I am kind of like a horse. I either stand up, or lay down. The nice lady taking pictures couldn't stop snuggling with me and saying nice things to me.

Santa was friendly too and I finally got comfortable enough to get up next to him. Mom kept jumping around like a crazy lady with her camera, along with the camera lady, ooohhhhhing and ahhhhing about how cute I was. Mom forgot to have me put on my reindeer antlers, but that was okay with me. I do like wearing them, so Mom said she would take more pictures of me with them on later closer to Christmas. She says I am the only dog she has ever had who will willingly keep on a pair of reindeer antlers.

"And what would YOU like for Christmas, young lady?" Santa said.

"Uhhhhhhhh...... I dunno.... I'm still thinking, Santa....."

Of course I was too nervous to remember what to ask Santa for, just like Ralphie in the Christmas Story movie. There wasn't really that much I could think of to ask for, since Mom always tells him all the good stuff to get me anyway. Plus, I already have the greatest gift I could have, and that is the gift to KEEP ON LIVIN'!

Everyone took a lot of closeups, but I asked Mom to zoom out and get one showing that I was a Tripawd. I wanted her to have picture to show other pawrents of Tripawds that we can still live it up and do all the same stuff we are used to doing:


Thursday, December 4, 2008

CBC Went Well

I took Nova to her regular vet yesterday for the follow-up CBC for last week's Carboplatin. Her white count was within normal ranges, so that was very, very good. Actually everything was within normal ranges, except that she was a little dehydrated. So I am trying to get more vigilant about getting her to drink. I have actually noticed her drinking a few times in the past day or so, so I was really relieved about that.

They also had a preliminary report there from Colorado State, which I hadn't seen yet. The Cancer Center had said they were waiting for the detailed report to go over with me next week or when we go for our next round of Carboplatin. Anyway, it was nice to actually read something. The diagnosis was fibroblastic osteosarcoma. Apparently this type of osteosarcoma is known to have a slightly better prognosis. Yay! Hey, I will take whatever positive news I can get. Also, there was a reactive lymph node, but there was no evidence of metastasis to the lymph node.

Histopathology report was as follows: "Section of lymph node is reactice with prominenct lymphoid follicles. There is a clear distincition between cortex and medulla. Section of the leg after further fixation and decalcification reveals tumor. The tumor consists of spindle cells forming swirls and whirls and a small amount of tumor bone matrix. Nuclei are moderately pleomorphic, oval, and have large nucleoli. Mitoses are moderate in number. There is extensive bone destructions and some reactive bone formation."

I am so glad we got this nasty thing off of her! It breaks my heart that she was walking around on a broken leg for who knows how long.

The best part is that she is so dang happy all the time. The tail is going constantly, even while napping, she greets me at the door when I come up, and is back to all her typical "leaning" she does when she wants a snuggle.

One day at a time!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Minimal Side Effects!

Just a quick update on a great weekend. I am so happy that Nova did not appear to experience any severe side effects from the carboplatin treatment the other day, aside from a tiny bit of diarrhea. They said side effects might occur within 3-5 days after the treatment (that was last Wednesday). That time has passed, and Nova appears to be doing great. She's usually pretty lethargic anyway, so it was hard to tell if she was more tired than usual. If anything, she seems to have a little MORE energy than usual. We had a few visitors to the house over the last few days, and she has been her typical nosy self, getting up and walking around, and also leaning on people. Her appetite seemed a little off during the day, but she is still eating her meals.

Here Alex is feeding her sliced turkey and ice cubes during one of the afternoons where she didn't seem to feel like eating. She will eat sliced turkey no matter what.

I don't know why, but I don't ever notice her at the water dish and she won't take water when I get it. Perhaps I should remind her again of that card Annie sent about drinking plenty of fluids! So I have still been hand feeding her ice cubes and watching to make sure her pee isn't too dark. She's even gone out to hop around in the snow for a few minutes.

The next event is Wednesday, where I will take her to her regular vet for a CBC blood test. I really don't know exactly what it is for, but I think it will give some indication how the chemo is affecting her.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hoppy Thanksgiving!

Well, today is Thanksgiving, my first official holiday as a Tripawd. This time last year, I was running the Turkey Trot 5K in Ann Arbor with Mom. I sure wish I could have gone this year. Mom and Alex got up early this morning to go down to Ann Arbor to do the race. I wish Mom would have taken Emmy to the race and given her a chance to run this year, but Mom said she was feeling all bummed that I was running last Thanksgiving, so it didn't occur to her to let Emmy try. (I am a much better runner than Emmy). Mom hopes that I can come to the race next year. I might not be able to run/hop a whole 5K, but she is hoping that I can at least cross the finish line with her next year. I can't wait!

I stayed home with Dad this morning. We were couch potatoes. Dad is still sore from the Ironman, so we have a lot in common. He says his legs are "toast". I know the feeling! Dad let me try on his medal from the race and said that I should receive a medal too for being such a good girl and for learning to get around as a Tripawd so fast. He told me I was a hero, and said what I have done must be even harder than an Ironman, since he had months of training, and I had no training at all.

When Mom got home we had a few Thanksgiving Day traditions. First, we watched the Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV:

Next, we kept up yet another Michigan tradition of watching the Detroit Lions lose. My brother Alex says that was the Lions' 100th loss, I guess that means it's a special occasion or something.

Mom and Dad and Nick went out for Thanksgiving dinner in the afternoon, since all the boys were gone and they wanted to have a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner rather than sit at home. While they were gone, I got to thinking about some of the things I am thankful for this Thanksgiving:

1) Most of all I am thankful that my parents are not like that jerk at the Doctor yesterday, the one who said they should have let me go to Heaven rather than amputate my leg. I know I will go to Heaven someday, but I am not ready yet! I've got lotsa livin' left to do!

2) I am thankful that the real estate market in Michigan is the worst ever, because Mom doesn't have to work so much and has lots of extra time to baby me and take me to all my appointments.

3) I am thankful for the wonderful Sack family, who treated me just like a member of their pack while Mom, Dad, and Alex were in Arizona.

4) I am thankful for all the delicious food I get to eat now that Mom has been reading about what dogs really SHOULD be eating. Duck, rabbit, beef, chicken, turkey.... ahhhhhh..... this is the life.

5) I am thankful for those nice warm polarfleece sheets that Mom put on the boys' beds for Winter. It's a great warm spot to cuddle up and feels so good on my sore body.
6) I am thankful for Jerry G. Dawg and his pawrents website,, which has helped Mom and I get through the past few weeks. There are so many nice people on there who have helped Mom and I feel better. Thank you!!

7) I am thankful for the delicious leftovers that Mom and Dad are sure to bring home from me from Thanksgiving dinner (turkey necks, please.... hint... hint).
Okay, time to run (I mean HOP) now. Mom and Dad just came home with the leftovers. Yum! I got some delicious turkey:

And even some roast beef! What a great idea to have both turkey and roast beef on Thanksgiving. What an awesome day this was!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Chemo Day - Round #1

Nova awoke this morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. After a weekend of being a picky eater she has been wolfing down her food. I guess she must have missed us and decided to go on a hunger strike. I feel bad for all she put Tammy through with her picky eating. She still was avoiding drinking water, so along with hand feeding her ice cubes, I have been adding extra water to her soft food (makes it extra slimy).
Before we left for the Doctor, she walked into Ben's room and jumped right up on his bed:
It was interesting to see how she did it, she had to adjust her technique. Another thing she is doing is shifting her front foot sideways. That bugs me a little because I worry that it will do damage to her front leg. Her front foot has gotten all spread out, I imagine it's her way of making a bigger platform to walk on. The foot is tilted so you can only see 3 toes when she walks, it is so weird:

She got right in the car, but had a different attitude than usual. Usually she just runs out to the van and hops in and stays there until I come out. This time she didn't object, but stood outside the car until I came out. She was looking at me like "we really have to do this, huh?" She was tense on the drive, like she knew we were going to the Doctor. She stood the whole way, which drove me bananas, i was afraid she would fall. She had to keep her head up in the front seat and rotated between resting her head on my shoulder (which doesn't exactly help me drive effectively) and on Ben's shoulder. This dog's head weighs a TON.
Ben kept getting irritated with her resting her head on him, apparently it affected his game playing on his iPod. I gave him the "be nice to Nova, she's sick, she just wants us to comfort her" lecture, which caused him to launch into a tirade about how poor Emmy was getting ignored because she wasn't sick. This whole ordeal has been stressful on everyone in the family. I know Ben loves Nova, he curls up with her every chance he gets and takes pictures to school to show his friends. It's easy to get frazzled when you're stressed and worried.
The appointment ended up taking much longer than expected. The wait was really long. Nova made a few Tripawd friends in the waiting room, and some other dog friends with cancer like this dog who had lymphoma:
Of course all the parents had to share their stories. There were a few people that came in with their dogs who were much further along in the process. It was nice to hear their success stories and kind words about Dr. Obradovich and Dr. Walshaw. There were also a few first-timers there. You can tell them by their wide-eyed, scared look. I was a little irritated at one man who looked at Nova and turned to his wife and said (not even whispering) "I would never do something so cruel to a dog like that (amputate), she shoulda just let that dog go to Heaven." I wanted to haul off and punch him, but I turned away and continued to talk positive with another Tripawd parent. It was kind of curious that that type of person would even show up at a Cancer Specialist's office with his dog. Some people just don't get it.

They took Nova in first to remove her bandage and clean up her incision. Dr. Walshaw pronounced the incision "lovely", but I have to admit it caused a few gasps when she walked out in to the waiting room. I think it was mostly because of her size. The incision was HUGE. It looked like that "Y" incision they make for autopsies (not that I know, I just read too many True Crime books). And she was shaved on that side so she looked naked. She hung her head, like she was self conscious, and snuggled up to the Technician:

They had run some preliminary bloodwork to make sure all was well for the treatment. She had an itchy right ear (all red inside) and some "female" issues that the doctor checked into, and ended up prescribing Amoxicillin to knock out any infection. But she was healthy enough for the chemo, but just had to wait her turn. She was a very patient girl in the waiting room, and allowed anyone who was interested to pet her:

Some say this is a face only a mother could love, but how could you not love this big goofy face? I think she is beautiful!
Patience was wearing a little thin after a long wait and she made a few runs for the door. She was panting a lot and I thought she might be thirsty. I sent Ben out to the car to get her ice cubes, and as soon as he returned they called her in.
They administered the chemo via IV and it was called Carboplatin. Dr. Obradovich recommended 4 rounds of Carboplatin as her first choice of treatment. I am very curious to see how well it works. They told me to follow up with my vet in a week for a CBC blood test, apparently the white count tends to drop after a week. They said side effects could occur around days 3-5, but that usually that just meant lethargy rather than nausea and vomiting. I counted out the days and that put it right on the weekend. Argh. Of course I got nervous about having yet another dog emergency occur on a weekend. Oh well, we'll get through it.
Nova came out and finally was tired enough to lay down as I went over instructions with the Doctor. Look how skeletal she is:
I am trying to feed her anytime she wants. Right now, I am feeding her 3 times a day, Evo canned food with Evo kibble mixed in. I even gave her some ground beef too. The technician told me I have to be careful to avoid letting Emmy get too close to any of Nova's poop in the next 48 hours or so. Apparently the Carboplatin is excreted, and should not be touched or (ewwww) eaten by a healthy dog. Luckily Emmy is not one of the types of dogs who does that.
We made the long drive home, but stopped for a few errands along the way. When we got home I was overjoyed to see Nova go straight for the water dish and drink for about 3 minutes straight. I am sure Tammy will breathe a big sigh of relief when she reads that. Poor Tammy made a major project out of trying to get Nova to drink for the past 5 days!
Okay, so I guess the next hurdle is to see what happens in 3-5 days......

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Day Before Chemo

We are back from Arizona now, and I am so relieved to finally see Nova after 5 days away. Apparently she didn't eat very well while we were gone. I think she was depressed or something. Of course that made me feel like a bad mom. Although, as the day passed I think I realized that maybe she just figured out how to milk it for maximum sympathy! I don't know, I've seen her do things I know she is capable of doing as a Tripawd, and then she will be a big lazy butt and wait for you to cater to her. For example, Tammy mentioned that she hadn't noticed Nova drinking, so she started to feed her ice cubes by hand (which Nova ate). When Nova got home I noticed she wasn't drinking here either, so I decided to do the ice cube thing. I put a few down on the floor where she was laying, and she didn't move a muscle. I opened up a jowl and stuck one in there, and she spit it out. But when I HELD the cube with my fingers, she licked it like crazy, all while not even lifting her head. And as she is doing this, the tail is going thunk-thunk-thunk. Spoiled girl! I know I am being manipulated yet I continue to do it... I am such a sucker.

When I got her home this morning the first thing I did was cut off that bandage. She kept it on at Tammy's just to keep things from getting bumped, but it was high time to get that thing off of there and let it all breathe. It wasn't as shocking as I thought it would be (although the actual incision is still covered). Here you can see it while she was eating (By the way, she was a picky eater all weekend yet has downed 4 cans of food today... and counting):

What was more shocking is that practically her whole left side was shaved and she was..... well.... NAKED. Her pink skin with freckles/moles here and there was all exposed. And she was all shivery like she was cold. Poor baby! I decided to drive up to the pet store and look for a dog coat, although I didn't have very high hopes of finding a Great Dane size. There are always so many cute things for sale out there for small and medium size dogs, but they never seem to have sizes to accommodate giant breeds. Now I know how large-size people must feel. Anyway, I was surprised to find a giant breed fleece dog coat there at Pet Supplies Plus. Got it home and it turned out that it fit perfect, and I think she actually likes it. It is made by Fido Fleece. "Stylin' Fleece Activewear for Dogs" the tag says. I would have liked to get a more feminine color, but this was all there was. I think it looks nice.

Today Nova got a package in the mail from Grandma Barb. It was from Sit Stay (they have lots of cool stuff on their site) and was a container of "Carnivore Kisses". They are dried beef bites. I fed her a couple and she liked them, although just like when I fed her the ice cubes she just laid there as I fed her by hand like she was some Greek Goddess or something.

Tomorrow morning at 10 we have her first round of chemo. I am very nervous. I think what I am most nervous about is her being more tired than she is now. Right now she doesn't get up and move around much, and spends a lot of time just laying there. I hope she doesn't have problems with her appetite too. She is skeletal as she is, I don't want her to stop eating. I cooked her some ground beef tonight while I was making spaghetti, and also picked up a big thing of sliced turkey from Sam's Club. She turned down the ground beef tonight, but I am not too worried, since she had just eaten a can of rabbit.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's update. I am hoping they take her stitches out!

My Pack is Back

I am so happy! Mom and Dad got back from their trip last night and early this morning Mom came right to Tammy's house to take me home! When she walked in I was still laying down, taking my time waking up. Once I saw Mom I was so happy! I couldn't help it, my tail was going like crazy. I had been kinda feeling sorry for myself this morning, bumming around, not eating or wanting to go outside. But now Mom was here to take me home. Yay!

I do have to say, though, that my stay at the Sack's house was awesome, so much better than staying at the kennel. They treated me just like a member of their pack, and Tammy took such good care of me, she was just like Mom. She worried about every little thing, just like Mom. She slept by me every night, snuggled with me, gave me my eyedrops, took me outside, kept me warm with blankets, and fed me. The whole family was so friendly and loving with me, and they even had other people come to visit at the house so that they could see me. I loved all the attention.

Like I said, I spent a lot of time the past 5 days feeling blue. I missed my Mom and my family. The entire Sack family did everything they could to make me happy and comfortable during my stay there. I gave Tammy a few things to worry about, I didn't mean to, but that's what I do to Mom all the time, and it seemed like Tammy was like Mom for the weekend. I didn't always eat my food, and I didn't feel much like drinking either. But she came up with lots of creative ways to get me to drink (feeding me ice cubes) and to eat. Get this.... she even cooked me some ground beef, and I had salami slices and turkey. Wow! She even came up with a new way to feed me my canned food, which they called Turkey Balls. She would wrap up my dog food in a piece of sliced turkey and roll it up in a ball. Even being depressed, it was hard to resist the Turkey Balls.

All in all, I think I was a pretty good guest. That sectional couch in the family room looked so tempting, I really was thinking about sitting on there, but never did. It looked so comfortable.

When Mom got me home I went straight outside to go potty. It's so great to pee in my own yard again, even in the snow. Then I went inside and gobbled up a can of Duck, which made Mom very happy. Mom cut off my bandage (ahhhhhh!) and I headed for my bed to relax.
Here's how I look without my bandage. You can see that my incision is still covered. I think the Doctor will be taking it off tomorrow when I go for my chemo treatment.
Mom is going to go pick up my sister at the kennel in a few minutes. I am so excited to see Emmy, and to see the boys when they get home from school today. And Dad, too. Mom said he finished the Ironman, although he had to go very slow during the marathon. (I know how that is!) Hopefully Dad will be in the mood for a nap with me tonight when he gets home from work.

Hmmmmm..... I was just thinking that maybe I should find a way to get Mom to make me some of those Turkey Balls....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Power Outage

Blog updates on Nova are going to slow down a bit until we return from Arizona next Tuesday. We are in Tempe for the Ironman Arizona triathlon, that my husband is doing. We joke that he is going to be less mobile than Nova when we return, so they will definitely be hanging out together over Thanksgiving weekend. It wasn't easy getting out of town this morning. Tuesday evening we had a power outage that lasted until Wednesday mid-day. That had it's challenges when it came to Nova's care. Some things you just don't think through. We do have a generator, so we were able to keep the house heated during the day, but at night we turned off the generator because it was so dang loud, no one could sleep. Bad move. Nova woke up to pee at about 3 am, and I tried to let her out by candlelight and flashlight and she was not going for it. I could not blame her, she couldn't see her footing on the step outside, so she wouldn't go out. Plus I couldn't light up the yard so she couldn't find her way around outside. What a dumb move on our part. These are the types of things you don't think about. I was really upset, and worried about her, I didn't want her to trip and fall in the dark. So I ended up sleeping out on the couch the rest of the night so I could hear her if she got up. Firing up the generator was not an easy task, actually it had run out of gas so I was planning to go get more gas in the morning. So I put some blankets over her to keep her warm. I am still kicking myself over that dumb move of not leaving the generator on.

Once everyone woke up, we got it going, and all was well with Nova again. Her front leg is still a little jittery when she is laying down and she whines a little now and then, but I think she is just being verbal, because her tail is thunk-thunk-thunking the whole time she whines.

Wednesday night I took Nova over to Tammy's to drop her off for her stay. Once again, Nova barged in like she lived there and layed right down on her bed right next to Annie's bed. Annie was being such a good sport about it all. We lugged in all sorts of stuff, food, her bed, her favorite eagle stuffie, all her glaucoma medications, her new harness that just came in the mail an hour before, sling, leashes, etc. I even brought rubber-backed rugs for Tammy to put on her hardwood floors. It was like having a baby all over again! I was a little nervous about the fact that they had a 2-story house, and that the bedrooms were all upstairs. I was worried that Nova might cry if she was left alone on the main floor, just because she is used to being with us when she sleeps. (We have a 1-story house, one thing I am VERY thankful for, it is very tripawd-accessible!) I also worried that Nova might try to go up the stairs. Tammy eased my fears when she said she had no plans to sleep upstairs during the time Nova was there. Awwww.... what a relief. I am so lucky to have someone like her to baby my baby when I can't be there.

I called Tammy during our layover to check on Nova, and she said she was doing great. What a relief. She said Nova is very fast on 3 legs when she goes outside. Fun! My kids were laughing that Nova is probably ending up with the more relaxing vacation. She is getting fawned over all weekend... lucky dog!

Updates will be brief until she comes home next Tuesday. Wednesday will be her first Chemo treatment, so I know there will be plenty to tell then.

Monday, November 17, 2008

6 Days Post-Op - First Follow Up Appointment

Nova's bandage was getting scrunched up and I wasn't sure what kind of condition it would be in on Wednesday (what was supposed to be our first follow-up appointment with Dr. Walshaw.) I called the Cancer Center this morning, and they encouraged me to reschedule the follow up appointment to today, so that they could check her out and give her a fresh bandage. I think usually the bandage is removed after the first week or so, but I think it was decided that since we will be gone for 5 days, Nova will be staying somewhere where there will be another dog, and that it would be a good idea to keep the incision area covered lest it get licked at or bumped.

On our way to the appointment, Nova and I stopped at Tammy's house so that Nova could get acquainted with her house. We also wanted to see how her mastiff Annie interacted with Nova. As soon as mentioned the magic word to Nova (RIDE) her tail started thumping and she swiftly hopped to the garage door. She hopped out to the garage, the hesitated and went back in the house. Sometimes she does this, it's like she needs to get up the nerve. It was only a minute later when she hopped back to the door and went straight out. Hopped right up into the car, no problem at all. This girl is amazing!

When we got to Tammy's house Nova stood on the grass for a second. I think she was surprised that we had arrived at somewhere other than a vet's office. This seemed to energize her.
She realized that this was a "fun" stop (unfortunately we haven't had many of those lately) and went right for the door. The 3 steps in the garage looked a little daunting, but she hopped right up without hesitation, and walked into their home like she lived there. Tammy was a little nervous how Annie would react. But they just sniffed each other and Annie went to lay down. Nova inched her way into the house more and more until to found a spot on the carpet to lay down. Tammy and I talked for awhile about Nova's care and things that I needed to bring when I dropped her off on Wednesday. She said her kids were very excited that Nova was coming to stay with them and that they would probably do a "family campout" in the family room this weekend where they could all sleep together with Nova. I can tell already that Nova is going to be soooooooo spoiled.

We made the long drive to Canton and as soon as we got there, the tech took Nova back to replace her bandage. She returned a short time later sporting a new blue bandage with a nice big Thanksgiving turkey on it. It was adorable!

Dr. Walshaw came out to talk with me and answer all my questions (I'm always full of 'em). One concern I had is that there was a lump on the outside of one of Nova's toes (on her remaining front leg) that didn't look like it was supposed to be there. It kind of resembled a bunion. Dr. Walshaw calmed my fears and said it was most likely caused by the way she had shifted her weight to the leg. It kind of made her foot spread out (which makes sense). They said that the biopsy results from the leg that was sent to University of Colorado had not come back yet, but they would call when they did. Not that I am expecting any diagnosis different than osteosarcoma, but I am still curious about what they have to say.

We were back in the car heading back home in no time. Nova decided she wanted to stand up on the back seat, which drove me bananas. I was afraid she would fall if I hit the brakes too hard:

She eventually started to lay down (well, halfway) but she miscalculated and her butt was up on the side of the car. It looked really uncomfortable. She rode like this for awhile:

Then she eventually inched her butt down and took a big long nap in the sun:

We made it back home right before it started sleeting. She followed me straight to my office to assume the nap position sleeping beside my desk: