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Rough start to therapy but he’s ok.

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Our Hound girl Tink was scheduled for mast cell tumor removal surgery in Richmond and the surgeon’s office is right beside the oncology folks, so Zato got an appointment for right after we dropped off Tink.   As awful as this whole thing has been, we have met the nicest, most helpful and caring people, including the kind folks at The Oncology Service.

After a frank discussion of the reality of the situation and an examination of the options as well as Zato, we decided to pursue metronomic therapy consisting of Piroxicam and Cytoxan.  We stopped Zato’s daily Rimadyl, which he was already taking since he’s a little old man :).  We were going to start the Cytoxan Saturday morning and Piroxicam Saturday night, but the little guy was getting stiff, so we decided to start with the Piroxicam on Friday night.  About two hours after taking the pill, we noticed that he was a bit wobbly, but we wrote that off to being stiff.  But by morning he couldn’t walk, and by mid-morning, he couldn’t stand.  Everything else was normal, but as you can imagine we were completely distressed!  So we called Zato’s vet at home, and I can never say enough kind things about him, and after talking to him we decided no more Piroxicam and we would hold off on the Cytoxan and see if we could get him back to a zero point.

Saturday was so awful all day, and we were so afraid we’d have to call Dr. Murdock to come over and let him go, but we held on to the hope that it was just a reaction that would pass.  By Saturday night, just about the time he would be due for another pill, he stood up and by Sunday morning he was walking again.  Phew!

Zato and Tink are pals, and after Tink came home from the hospital two days after her surgery, Zato immediately comforted her as she began her recovery at home.

Tink was still pretty fried from all the heavy duty pain medication (she had a lot of incisions), so later on when Zato knocked the pillows off the sofa as usual, she didn’t move and probably didn’t even notice!

So we are on day 3 of Cytoxan and he seems to be handling it pretty well.  Overall I feel he is ok.  I can’t deny that his breathing is faster than it used to be, but he’s not panting and is still hungry and playful, so that’s good.  We are giving him pills to help with his cough and there seems to be some improvement there.  Now we watch and wait.  Bloodwork in 2 weeks and an evaluation at 4 to see if there is any effect.  In the meantime, I TRY TRY TRY SO HARD to be in the moment.  The weekend’s reprieve reminded me yet again how lucky we are, but also makes me feel like Dale in Flash Gordon, when she was desperately trying to turn the hourglass over to get more time.  Crazy I know, but that’s what popped into my mind. But tonight we have more time, and someone wants to know where his treat is!

Is that a cute face or is that a cute face?!?!

Lung mets and a broken heart…

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Zato has had such a good run…amputation almost 7 months ago, diagnosis October 29, 2016, osteo symptoms in May of 2016…and he’s still here.  I read so many stories of other dogs who didn’t have anywhere near close to this much time, and my heart broke for all of them.  My life became a series of, “If I could just have”s…one more Christmas…one more birthday…one more summer…then again, one more Christmas.  We’ve had two Christmases since his diagnosis, a miracle in itself.  Here he is last month.  I hadn’t put any presents under the tree yet because I said all I wanted was right there:

I haven’t posted anything for a few months because we’ve just been living and enjoying every day!  Our morning extra long cuddles have been so special:

He was doing great.  More than great.  And I kept saying I knew I only had today and I could accept it when our time ran out because we’d been so lucky, blah blah blah….and when he started coughing after Christmas, I decided it was just a cold or something.  When x-rays looked pretty clear, that was good enough for me.  When the coughing got worse, we went back yesterday.  And when those x-rays told a different story, all my stoic BS went right out the window.

I don’t have to explain to any of you how I feel.  I know you know.  I’m trapped in a place between excruciating pain and fear and being somehow numb at the same time.  I don’t see how I can do this, but I know when the time comes I will do it for him.  I know that all these months have been a precious gift, and while I appreciate them more than I can ever say, I want more.

So my sweet boy has two rapidly-growing nodules right now.  Our vet and Zato’s oncologist are going to come up with a plan to try and give us some more good time…maybe some Palladia and Prednisone (low dose).  We’re just trying to enjoy the weekend.  As always, Zato is so much more evolved than me…he tried to chase the deer tonight, even if he coughed a little afterwards.  He licked Caddie’s head, as he’s done since she was a 2 pound puppy 8 years ago.  And he wagged his tail and looked at me as if to say, “Don’t cry.  I’m here.  Everything is going to be ok.”

My sweet boy.

Still the same :)

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I know sometimes people see an amputee pup and think they’ve been diminished in some way, that they are different now.  Today I was reminded by Zato that he’s just as much of a hoodlum (at times) on three legs as he was on four.

He had left it alone since his surgery, but today he decided to revisit his attempted hole in the back yard up against the house.  I thought this was pretty impressive for one leg and 10 seconds (the time it took me to get there!)

“I’ve been framed, man! I didn’t do it – Eli did!”

Four legs or three, Zato is still very much Zato – our sweet boy!


October Update!

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First of all, I’m sorry for being offline for so long!  I’ve just been enjoying every day with Zato and the time has flown.  I also had a bout of shingles that left me feeling pretty crummy for a few weeks, but thankfully (hopefully) all the weird and wacky things from that are coming to an end.

I am heartbroken to read of the passings that have occurred recently.  I know some of those sweet pups had their surgeries around the same time as Zato.

He’s doing great.  We haven’t done any x-rays or other tests because he feels so well.  He actually seems to be feeling better than he has in a long time, even before he got sick!  I don’t know if it’s the remedies and supplements, but we are enjoying watching him have so much fun.

Zato has been spending a lot of time, as usual, with Cadpig.  There is nothing she likes more than for Zato to lick her head.   A nap together after a bit of wrestling is nice, too.

And sometimes, you just need to display for the camera!

Life Returns

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Life has returned to normal.  No constant vet visits, or watching him limp, or trying to assess his pain level.  For the first time in almost a year, I’m at ease.  A peaceful calm has descended upon me.  I don’t know how long it will last.  But I have wrapped my arms around it and am holding on tight.

We go for short walks a lot. We watch the deer.  We sit on the porch and he sniffs the breeze.   We take little trips to interesting places. When I’m lying on the sofa watching tv, he hops up and gets behind my legs and rests his head on me like he used to.  He bounces up and down like a pogo stick when he wants a treat.  He doesn’t try to get on the bed by himself anymore, but if we don’t pick him up fast enough, he makes his little grizzle noises.  We have our routine of supplements and remedies and medications down pat.

Zato had a therapy consultation last week.  I really liked them and we will go on a regular basis.  We’re so grateful that Zato is a recipient of the Maggie Moo Fund!  Here is the link to his rehab visit.   He was definitely  styling in his new Tripawds shirt.

He was so excited to be going somewhere that he got away from me before I could get his shirt all the way on.   I kept saying, “Easy!” because I worried he’d strain something!

I know the statistics and I have no idea what is going on inside of him, but on the outside, he’s happy and playful and whole.  That’s good enough for us, as long as it lasts.  Here’s a picture of him on this beautiful afternoon, helping us work on our deck.

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