Sunday, July 23, 2017

Another day another amazed human

Sometimes I take Bugsy and his indomitable spirit for granted.
Here he is, now 11 months post cancer diagnosis, and still demanding walks, eating us out of house and home, playful, social and mischievous.

We are truly in the awfulness of North Carolina July, heat index has been over 100* for a couple of weeks, morning temps about 80* with high humidity so our walks are very early.
But by golly I better take him for his walk or he is going to be bothering me all day long because I didn't.
Yesterday morning at about 6am lots of folks were out walking in the neighborhood trying to beat the heat.
As we were heading down a cul de sac an older couple were coming down their driveway. He saw them and got his "are you allowed to be out here?" look. Think assessing legitimacy. The wife in the couple looked a little stunned to see him staring at her so I apologized and made a joke about him being neighborhood watch (which he basically is).
She remarked that they were familiar with labs and I said I knew as we had met her husband and Cooper quite a few times. Then she mentioned he seemed tall, so I let her know he was just a shelter mongrel but a good one. Somehow, conversation led to me saying he was nearly 12 and was  battling cancer for about a year after being told he had about 3-6 months.
She just stared at him, studying his face and body as he continued his morning hunt.
She commented that he sure looked well.
They went their way, we went ours.
Later in the walk as we were  on our last stretch the same couple exited our cul de sac. B saw them ahead and his whole body language changed; he had been looking worn out and hot, suddenly he held his body more upright, his pace quickened to a trot and his signature bounce returned.

When our paths met again, she stopped and said, 'my goodness I would never have guessed he was more than 6 or 7 nevermind 11 with cancer".  She gave him some loving, wished us well and said the had an amazing spirit.

Yes ma'am he sure does.

The Week

* This was from September 2016

OK it was actually eight days.

That was set in cycle a few days  earlier.

Let me set the table.

Bugsy just wasn't himself. I am not sure for how long, I just knew it had been a while. So I asked Steve to take him to the vet for a senior panel.

I expected some results to be off but was surprised with having 10 values off and literally none of the values I expected to be off.
The recommendation was to wait a few weeks and rerun the CBC.
However, as that week passed, I noticed  he really was very flat. I took him back in to see the vet who ran another CBC. Pretty much the results were the same.

Next step was abdominal ultrasound and I knew we were looking for a mass on his spleen.............at the least.

Sure enough the ultrasound showed a mass on the spleen.
I am leaving out the unpleasant experience at that vet hospital - just let me say to the folks in the Raleigh area, VSH seems more interested in your cash than your pet.
Aspirate and cytology led to a preliminary diagnosis of a localized histiocytic sarcoma.

That's bad.

Next step, remove the spleen.

There is only one place I want Bugsy to have surgery, that's VSRP (Veterinary Specialty Referral Practice) and with Dr. Jack Gallagher.
When I called, they said they didn't have an available appointment until 9/30 (it was 9/22) after a short conversation, the receptionist said let me ask Dr G and I asked her to mention it was Bugsy.
Within a couple of  minutes she returned and said, "bring him in Monday first thing, we'll do the consult and surgery same day."

And so we did

The amazing little things

*This post was from 2014

So a day after realizing that we could be faced with the beginning of the end, it is amazing how the little things stand out.
How he starts his day with insanity and wild rolling, waking up anyone in the house. To how he has the whole making coffee, getting his thyroid tablet and fetching the paper routine down to a science. In fact he acts as supervisor as I go through each step of my morning. I cannot eat alone, brush my teeth alone, check emails alone, ok you have the idea.  He watches and interprets every move.
He knows each thing I am doing & going to do.
Completely integrated into our lives. 
Greeting us with a mouthful of toys ( I believe it was 5 tonight), making sure he got the treat of his desires, running zoomies, causing havoc and then flopping in the upstairs hallway angled, with his head in the laundry room.
So many little things and habits. Expectations from him and from us. 

I'm sad, but he keeps wagging

*This post is from August 2012

At the end of July Bugsy started limping.
I could tell it was a front leg thing but nothing else.
I rested him. I tried rimadyl, tramadol, and traumeel independently.
Nothing helped.
I took him to the orthopedic vet, who was flummoxed and gave us a very hesitant diagnosis that it was due to cartilage loss in a toe.
I didn't believe that could cause my boy to limp. He is stoic to a fault.
I reduced his walks in frequency & lemgth, increased the frequency of the rimadyl but nothing really changed; my boy was limping as badly as ever.
Then we went away for 10 days. He was here, no exercise with my mom, doing mostly nothing.
When I came home I could see he was in excruciating pain.
I felt so sad. Again I rested him, added pain relief and hoped for a change.
I conferred with the orthosurgeon who eventually recommended a MRI.
I didn't pursue it.
We went to our regular vet for something else and that vet worked poor B over extensively. He found a super painful point in his shoulder and declared it a problem with the tendon that attaches the biceps muscle to the shoulder joint.
He recommended swimming and as little weight bearing as possible.
We've been following that regime for over a month now. His swimming is amazing, he can swim about a 1/ 2 mile with ease now.
But he can't walk without a limp.
Tonight a favorite dog friend came by and another person with a young pup, he tried to play. He wanted to play, but it hurts too darn much. 
Within a few minutes the limp was very pronounced and he wasn't interested.
Bless him for never getting snappy, he is my happy, sweet boy through it all.
When everyone had left, he looked into my eyes and I could see the discomfort. And confusion.
My heart breaks for him. There isn't much else I can do. I have been busting my butt ensuring that he swims at least 3x a week. The swimming improves but he can't walk, run or play without pain.
I spoke to the vet who diagnosed him yesterday, he said to keep swimming him, which I will do. But I sure would like to see an improvement in his ability to walk :(
My poor happy boy spent the best part of a year down and out from the knee injury and repair, I realize this is likely to take nearly as long. 
Their lives are too short to waste years in pain and with restrictions.
Send a little positive thought his way, he deserves to be pain-free

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Still going and still zooming

I find it hard to write about Bugsy these days. And I am not very sure why.
He continues to slowly slide, we have bad days (today was one), he got real thin again but somehow gained a bit back.
Stamina is low.
Sleeps a lot.
But today he caught a squirrel, how in the hell does that happen?

We took a brief trip to the mountains and had a wonderful time but he was burned out for days afterward.

But this week he's been zooming, stealing kitchen towels, chasing ducks at the lake and of course proudly trotting through the neighborhood as he has always done.

He remains so damn happy and silly, you just ride along with him.
Then he has a bad day and your heart breaks.
After not thinking about it for 2 or 3 weeks the bad day hits you like the diagnosis all over again.

He is so Peter Pan like you really think he'll live forever or should I say you can't imagine him not being alive.

We still follow our routines and his joy infects all around him.

So what can I say, fuck cancer.

Now I am going to kiss Bugsy goodnight

Friday, May 19, 2017

The week that wasn't

We should have been arriving home from a week at the beach today.
But as explained in my previous post it was decided it was too much and we had a two night stay earlier.

This week has been "our" week at the beach for many years so my Facebook "On this Day" has thrown video and pictures at me all week. So many incredible memories.
Joy
Beauty
Peace
Relaxation

The temps have spiked this week and Bugsy is struggling. Our walks are short and hard work.
He pants in the house.
He's weaker and weaker.
It would have been a nightmare at the beach.

But he's happy. He is thrilled with his human food meals and eats each one like we never feed him.

It's hard to think he'll never run those wild zoomies in the sand again.
And I mean crushing but I try to focus on how fortunate he and we have been to enjoy such moments.


Beach dog

On May 12, 2017 we were to head to our beach place for a week.
In March, I didn't think he'd still be with us.
As we made our way through April and we found a feeding regime that didn't cause issues, it seemed that he would still  be with us.
However, he was weakening, week by week.
I finally told my husband to cancel it. No way he would be able to handle a week at the beach.
For all the things working against him, Bugsy has never mastered calm, or going slow.  He just doesn't have the strength and stamina to do what he tries to do and I felt staying at the beach a week wouldn't be a good thing for any of us.

After it was canceled, I was sad. I mean really sad. The end of an era.
I was stuck on the idea that he'd never feel the sand in his toes again and that we'd never see his joy at being here again.
So I booked a couple of nights and here we are.

Canceling was correct, as was getting here asap.

Upon arrival it was all joy.
He was so happy. He made some new human and canine friends and zoomed in pure ecstasy.

Today was harder. His desire to be at the beach is as high as it ever has been, however his ability to enjoy it is low.  The strength just isn't there.

Spent about an hour at the beach this morning and he wanted to go in.
He slept for a hours and then DH wanted  to go to a cute local town.
We did but poor B was so tired and hot. It was too much.
But we did it and came home. And he slept some more.

He ate. We went to the beach. He did his "business", zoomed, chilled and  then wanted to go back in.
He quickly settled into a deep sleep.

Thinking back to Fall 2006 our first trip here, he was so insane. Unable to rest at all, finally after 13 non-stop hours, I put him in his crate and he fell asleep before I could slide the latch. He slept for 12 hrs and repeated his very busy, all day, OMG this is exciting activities, until once again he was crated.

Back to our new reality, he woke up in the morning and enjoyed a walk a brief zoomie before meeting a new dog he thought was great.
It was the right thing to cancel the week, The right thing to go for a couple of nights.
Still bittersweet but it is wonderful to feel like you are helping someone enjoy their final days