Ruff days….

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The last few days have been pretty stressful here at Casa de Perro.  Rio’s cough has gotten more prolific over the past few weeks, and her Dr say that she’s hearing a lot more “noise” in the lungs.  To make matters worse, Rio’s been vomiting almost daily for the last week. I’ve struggled to maintain a positive outlook, but have mentally bounced back and forth between “she must have gotten into something in the yard (since Zeffy barfed on one of those days too)” to “we are winding down to the end………….”

Today things are a little better.  Rio hasn’t thrown up for more than 24 hours, and you have no idea how much relief this brings.  I spoke with her vet this evening.  Her chem panel actually was pretty good.  Her red counts are a teensy elevated, and the Dr thinks its because Rio’s a little dehydrated.  Makes sense cuz of the throwing up…..  So, we’re gonna “spike” her water with broth (she LOVES this) and we’re going to put her on a really bland diet for a few days until her tummy feels better.  Her Dr also recommeded upping her Pepcid to twice a day.

Right now, she’s asleep on the couch, and aside from the kicking and twitching, she’s sleeping peacfully.  Me, on the other hand, I f*$%ing hate this roller coaster…  I’m taking deep breaths, and trying to live in the moment.  I’m trying so hard to focus on her quality of life.  But all this worrying is gonna give me an ulcer (and let’s not even talk about how many new grey hairs)….  I wish I knew for certain if this was just a bump in the road or something worse.  I wish I could forget all this nonsense and just look at my Rio as if she were invincible and immortal — the way I look at the Monkeygirls.   I wish I wasn’t thinking in this vein, but this has been a really long journey for us….  And we’re both tired.

In the meantime, anybody got a good recipe for carpet cleaner????


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7 Months

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I totally forgot that yesterday was Rio’s 7 month ampuversary.  I feel kinda bad that I keep forgetting to celebrate the milestones!

In my defense, though, Wednesday we had a Rio and Mom Day.  I took her to Petco and she was treated like visiting royalty.  No reasonable girl would say no to that!  Every time I take her someplace like that, though, the next time we go someplace and she has to stay in the car, she gets a little peeved.  It’s as if she thinks all stores harbor within them toys and cookies and food beyond any dog’s imagination and I’m the one denying her access to it!

On the way home, I decided to take her to the beach that’s just down the road from our house.  It was super busy there — lots of kids playing in the sand and moms taking in the sun.  She gets lots of compliments on how she gets around, and nearly everywhere I take her someone tells us the story of another three-legged dog.  I love how the kids especially respond to Rio.  The grown ups, I think are worried about asking to many questions or maybe they just don’t want to know the answer to the questions.  But the kids think she’s a rock star!  Before her amputation, most of them didn’t really pay too much attention to her.  Occasionally one would ask if they could pet her, and she’d search them for the treats they should be giving to her.  Now, they pepper me with questions about her.  One little boy asked if she’d grown up that way (meaning tripawd), and I explained that it had been fairly recent.  Then he wanted the full story.  A little girl asked about her skin — try explaining Cushing’s and calcinosis cutis to a child in a really brief conversation.   Anyhow, Rio loved all the attention, but did wonder when were these small people going to feed her.  After all, they gave her cookies at the last place she visited!!!

I found a little stick and asked Rio if she wanted to go get it.  She swam after the stick a few times and then we walked up to the grass to sit and dry before jumping back in the truck.  Just sitting there, with my girl, with the world going on around us…  Those moments —  those are the ones to be cherished and banked for later.

We’re doing another Rio and Mom thing today, although it won’t be nearly as fun.  Rio has a dr. appointment later this morning.  Nothing big, we are just getting baseline CBC, protein/creatinine ratio before we start her on the masitinib.  (Paws crossed that the medicine works and that it doesn’t have any of the potential adverse reactions.)  We’ll keep ya posted!

The dog days of summer — a rambling missive

So June and July were a whirlwind of activities — sadly, most of them not doggie related.  We volunteer with the Kitsap Arts & Crafts Association, and our big festival/fundraiser was the final weekend in July.  This was our second festival as volunteers, but the 52nd annual for the organization.  We are struggling to keep it afloat with a tiny group of workers, and so it was complete madness for about 3 weeks!

I’ve been neglecting the Tripawds team somewhat lately, and I feel guilty about it — you’ve been so supportive to us, that I feel I owe the same support to others on the site.  But as I log on with trepidation only to find the thing that I dread the most — that another of our dear friends has left us — it gets me thinking about the fragility of my own little friend a lot more than I’d really like.  She’s no spring chicken to begin with, but this past 8 months has been really tough on her, and she’s visibly not the same dog she was as we ended 2010.

And while part of me tries desperately to enjoy every moment with my little friend, I can’t help but watch her like a hawk for any sign or symptom, with my heart catching in my throat if I think I might, maybe, perhaps see something.  I’d rather not think about it at all, but I find myself running my hands over her, not just giving her lovies, but searching for the one thing that I really don’t want to find.  So far, no signs of what I fear, but that doesn’t stop me from looking again in a little while.  And unfortunately, the losses of our compatriots just serves to remind me a little too much that one day it will be my Rio.  So although she’s enjoying life and she’s happy, this old dog (me) is having some trouble learning how to live in the now!

After several months of worrying (but not really wanting to know, if it was gonna be something bad), I finally broke down and had her cough checked out.  We did a couple of chest films last week, and while they show some bronchial inflammation, there are no shadows, no evil lurking mets, no cancer.  (I can’t remember who on Tripawds called them Boris and Natasha, but I LOVE that!)  So phew!  As we were at the vet for everypawdy’s annual check ups, we realized that Rio hasn’t had a “normal” vet appointment in so long, that she was 6 months late on her rabies vaccine!  (If we lived in a less rural environment, and if Rio didn’t feel the need to kill all of the little critters that live in our yard, I probably would just forego any future vaccinations, because she really isn’t exposed to most of the “bugs” that they vaccinate against.  But we do, and she does, so she got the shot.)

The monkeybutts got check-ups, too, and Tosca didn’t bite anyone!  Yay!  She also needed a rabies vaccine, although her’s was right on schedule.  Zeffy got super tiny when the vet was examining her.  She’s such a big baby at the doctor’s!  It could be because when I first got her, she used to eat a lot of stuff she wasn’t s’posed to and we had to go to the vet a few times — for stomach pumping, for x-rays to check the intestines — experiences like that when you’re a tiny pup, and I guess you could be scarred (or just scared) for life.  Plus, she’s not the bravest girl to start with….

We got to talking about how different all three girls are as patients, and how fortunate (if you can call it that) that it was Rio who had to have all the doctor visits.  She is a model patient — she doesn’t bite, doesn’t squirm, lets them do everything they need to do without even so much as a “Hey, now!” when they take her temperature — the only trouble they ever have with her is that she doesn’t want to leave me, so they have to lure her into the back room with food.

Tosca, on the other hand, has a red flag in her chart because she tried to eat a vet tech’s hand, and has snapped at the doctor a few times.  I have to really watch her closely, because if she’s not in the mood for it, somebody is going to lose a finger.  And Zephyr, little Nervous Nell, goes completely limp or tries to hide under the furniture.

But, overall, everyone had a good check up — Tosca got lots of props for weighing in at a svelte 83 pounds.  A few years ago, when I was in Ireland for a month, dad let T get as heavy as 103 lbs.  Let’s just say, he got a bit of a WTF when I got home, even though, by then she was down to 98 lbs.  She has been in the high 80’s to low 90’s for a while, and looks good at that weight, but she’s had a lot more energy and zip at this lower weight, so we think that we’ll keep her there.  Zeffy was a healthy 74 lbs, down from her low 80’s weight, and Rio was her tiny self at 59 (pre-amp, she weighed in between 72-76 lbs).  I think a lot of the weight loss that we’ve seen on all three of them can be directly related to their dietary changes over the last 8 months.  So yay, me, for a healthier diet for the dogs — now it’s time to work on my own extra lbs!!!

Oh, and I have to say, it’s really nice to have a vet bill for once that didn’t give me a heart attack when I got it!  3 annual exams, 2 rabies vaccines, 2 chest x-rays (a little peace of mind), stool sample, urinalysis = $300!!!!!  Granted, it’s still a lot of $$, but the x-rays alone probably would have been that much if I’d gone to Rio’s specialists for them.  Which leads me to my next little quandary:  to continue to see the specialists now that we’re past the chemo and have gotten the Cushings under control, or should I just get the abdominal ultrasounds, ACTH stimulation tests, etc. done by my regular vet?  Cost-wise, it will be a lot less money, and since I doubt that I will put Rio through anymore chemo/radiation/etc. treatments — although I do reserve the right to change my mind should the need arise — do we really need the specialist’s expertise going forward?  Rio is due for her abdominal ultrasound next week, and the last time I went, it was a 6 hour visit.  That’s the other part of the equation — if I get the US done at a local clinic or with my regular vet’s traveling US tech (which may very well be the same one as what the specialty clinic uses), I get an actual appointment, whereas at Summit, they don’t schedule you — you’re supposed to drop the dog and pick up later.  Since we drive 60+ miles to get there, it doesn’t make sense for me to drop Rio off and come back later to get her.  What would I do?  Where would I go?  So I just bring the computer and hang out…  Not exactly the best use of my time.

But the upside of having the oncology specialist, she’s treated Rio through all of this, and there’s a continuity and knowledge base  to both her records and her care that is comforting.  And her internal medicine specialist is in the same clinic as her oncologist, and they regularly consult with each other on her care (although that should have preempted what I like to call the Prednisone Debacle, but didn’t).  So, is this worth the extra cost, the extra gas, drive time, TIME time, etc.?  I don’t know…

Anyhow, to wrap up this brain dump, life is moving forward — often at a breakneck pace — and Rio is still kicking butt!  Rio’s mom is a little worse for wear, though!

Life update

Holy Cow!!! it’s JULY!!! Not really certain how that happened.  Must have blinked….

Yesterday was Rio’s last dose of CCNU, and per normal, she’s a bit tired this morning.  Today is milestone #5 Months since her surgery.  Yay, Rio!!!  Only one more Vinblastine to go!

She’s got a downy new coat of hair, although its still pretty patchy in spots.  I’m really pleased at how well the Trilostane seems to be working.  She’s got lots of energy and is really playful — like her young self, pre-Cushings.

Day before yesterday, we took the girls to the beach for the first time this summer.  It was almost 80 out and it just seemed like the perfect place to be.  The tide was out too far for Rio to really swim (cuz I can only throw the squirrel so far….), but she had a blast in the water!  The Golden Hippo swam so much, she can barely drag her carcass around the house.  She and Zeff have been in a coma for the last two days….  Dogs just don’t know how to pace themselves…  🙂

They had a great holiday with friends and family.  I think they were all too tired to even hear the fireworks (which is good, cuz they don’t like them very much).  Dad turned on a loud movie, too, so that helped cover the sound of most of the ka-booms.

A moose emerges from the surf

Another chemo, another day…

Rio had her nearly last chemo this week (only two more left, YAY!!!), and so far, she’s doing pretty darn good.  She slept a lot today, but still had a good appetite and was pretty playful in between the naps.   Her tummy’s a little upset this evening (I need a gas mask), but I’m confident that she’ll be back to her self in a day or so. Over the last couple of weeks, she’s been making some definite strides in the right direction — she’s been seriously funny, crazy, wanting to play, lots of energy, lots of silly.  She seems to have more strength in her remaining rear leg and (pause for effect……..) she’s even started growing hair — truly!  She’s got tiny little whiskers along her back, and when she stands in the light, you can see the new growth.  Again, YAY!!!

Happiness is .... the Woo!

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I think it’s working!

It’s been a busy spring.  Time is flying, and it’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly four months since Rio’s surgery.

She’s been so funny the last few days.  She seems like she’s feeling better, and I’m thinking, just maybe, the Trilostane must be kicking in.  We had a second ACTH stimulation test last week and her numbers went from 8 down to 3.5.  Her doc wanted her numbers between 2 and 5, so she was very happy with this result.  Don’t ask me what it means, but it sounded good, like things are finally moving in the right direction!  She’s even getting new whiskers on her back!  I am feeling somewhat hopeful.  Fingers crossed!!!!

We head off to Oregon (another road trip) today.  The nephew is graduating from high school!!!  We are only taking Rio this trip (and I’m feeling incredibly guilty about it) — but we will be staying at the in-law’s house, and their dog gets a little crazy when the girls roll in to town, ande starts peeing everywhere in the house.  I guess maybe he feels threatened — lotsa big doggies invading his space.  It’s totally understandable to me.  Between the Moose, the Thunderbutt and the Woo, they are a whole lotta doggie!!!  They will be in good hands, but I still feel like a bad mommy for leaving them.

I’m hoping things will slow down a bit this month so that I have a moment to breathe…..

 

Mexican hairless…..

Wow, May has gone by so fast….!  It’s nearly June and my computer has finally been returned to me.  It’s taken a couple of days to get everything reloaded and updated, so that it’s finally back to normal.  You don’t really think about how much of your life is on your computer until it’s gone.  Fortunately we have Time Machine and it had done a complete system back up just prior to having it’s meltdown! Otherwise, I’d be LOST!!! Continue reading