Sasha In Our Hearts

 Posted by
Mar 282014
 

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Liliana and I said goodbye to our sweet Sasha on Friday, March 21, 2014.  She brought us so much happiness for more than thirteen years.  You will always be in our hearts, baby girl.

Thank you to everyone who has been in Sasha’s corner over the past two years.  We will be adding another post about Sasha in the coming days, so please come back to check it out.

We Love you, Sasha.

Mar 172014
 

20140103_113944-1Our last Sasha update was Jan 6th.  Since then, Sasha has had 2 more check-ups/treatments.  And she has been doing well, for the most part.

Her check up on January 23rd showed no disease progression since December 2013.  This was such awesome news!

Her next checkup was on February 21st.  Putting her on the scale revealed that she had lost 2.2 lbs since her visit in January.  Her appetite had been good, so we attribute the weight loss to decreased activity, and a loss of muscle.

Sasha and daddy at NCSU:

On Wednesday March 19th, we’ll be heading to Pennsylvania.  We are visiting Carlos’ mom who has been ill, and we will be taking Sasha for a visit/check-up at Penn Vet.  Last time we were at Penn was in September.  This is the longest time between visits to PA,  and we are excited to see how Sasha will react to seeing Dr. Mason again.  I am sure it will be a treat for Sasha to see her favorite doctor.

Sasha has been enjoying going for rides in her garden cart:

We do get her out of the cart and let her do whatever she feels up to at the time, and what she feels up to often surprises us.  Check her out at Mordecai:

And at a school near our house where we often take her and Argus for short strolls:

Sasha has been eating well; here she is, enjoying a Taco:

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Update within an update:

This post was supposed to go live several days ago.  We had planned on writing, basically what you’ve already read above, and maybe adding another photo or two.  Unfortunately, Sasha has taken us for a bit of a ride over the past couple of weeks.  She seemed uncomfortable for a few days, and experienced a loss of appetite.  She also started coughing, which of course, made us think about the tumors that had developed in her lungs.  We decided to let her ride it out for a little and see how things progressed.  Happily, Sasha started to feel better.  She was getting up to greet us when we got home from work, which had not happened for a little while.  She was getting around much better in the yard, and at the neighborhood park.  Carlos even decided to see how she would react to seeing her Kong flying disk, and she was amazing. As soon as she saw what Carlos had in his hand, she turned on her laser focus and locked on to the disk.  Carlos got her worked up a bit and then tossed the disk just a few feet away.  It was amazing, Sasha got up and took off after the disk Still Dreaming  Carlos threw the disk once more, and then finished the game with a little tug-of-war.  We cannot tell you the happiness that seeing Sasha go after her flying disk brought to our hearts.

Sadly, after the awesome day with the flying disk, Sasha, again, seemed to feel under the weather.  She would often be restless while laying on one of the dog beds.  She sort of spins herself around in circles seemingly in search of a comfortable spot and position, but she never quite seems to find the perfect bump to lay her head on, or valley to sink her body into.  Carlos usually likes to help Sasha get up when it’s time to go outside to do her business (we have slippery floors), and she usually does her 50% of the work to get up, but recently she hasn’t seemed very motivated to go outside.

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Even though Sasha is not showing a great deal of motivation to go outside, she does not seem depressed either, and is still very much interested in what we are doing, and what we might have in our hands.  Carlos often tells me that she’s always listening attentively to what I’m doing when out in the kitchen or another room, and I see the same thing in her when Carlos is the one in another room.  Her appetite has change a little.  She’s very interested in treats and human food, but in the mornings she sometimes does not finish her regular food.  One good thing is that the cough she had only occurred a couple of times in the morning and she has not coughed again.  We are hoping this is good news.  And we are hoping that now that she is no longer on Cephalexin, that she will bounce back to normal in a couple of days.  She was on Cephalexin because she broke a nail and hurt one of her toes.  To prevent infection, the Dr. prescribed antibiotics and this particular one can cause upset stomach even if its taken with food.

If being off the Cephalexin does not help, then I’m afraid that Sasha’s discomfort if the result of something more serious.  To help her with this, we are not sure if we should increase her pain meds and/or maybe also add some radiation treatment to her arm (no more radiation to her back end).  It is difficult to think this way, but we need to consider whether or not it is worth putting Sasha through more treatments (and recover from those treatments) just to buy her a few more weeks.  We have to realize that when we think of buying her more time, we may actually be thinking more about buying US more time with her.  We want to do what is best for our girl, no matter how difficult it is on us.  If we had our way, Sasha would be with us forever!

We will write again soon to let you all know how Sasha is doing, and what her next step will be.

Jan 062014
 

The last Sasha update on Lili’s  Notes was over three months ago.  Sasha had just come back from a visit from Penn Vet from receiving her 5th dose of the vaccine.  Needless to say, an update is long overdue.

Here’s a video of her swimming one week before Thanksgiving:

After the last dose of vaccine in September, Sasha was doing very well up until a little before Thanksgiving.  Her left leg/pelvis began causing her more pain, and walking had become a little difficult for Sasha.  It was time for more radiation.

We spent Thanksgiving in Hagerstown, MD with one of Carlos’ cousins and his grandfather.  We had a great time, and so did the dogs.  I’m sure Sasha would have been a little happier if not for the pain that she was obviously feeling.  She spent most of her time lying around instead of enjoying the cold weather.  As we’ve mentioned before, Sasha comes alive when the mercury drops.

When we were back in NC, I scheduled Sasha to receive radiation at NCSU on December 2nd because she was already scheduled to receive Zolindronate on that day, but unfortunately it could not be done.  She received radiation on the 3rd and 4th that week.  Unfortunately for Sasha, this meant that she’d be at NCSU 3 days in a row! Sasha was not happy at all.  In fact, she was quite miserable for having to go 3 days in a row, and the treatment did a number on her.   Our girl normally bounces back quickly after her treatments and is usually back to normal within a week, but this time it took her longer to bounce back.  Sadly, the radiation didn’t seem to help relieve Sasha’s pain as much as it usually did.  Also, the radiation seems to be causing problems in Sasha’s colon.  For several days after the radiation, Sasha would feel that she had to poop, even if she didn’t need to.  She strained, and this caused her to bleed.  After several medications, pumpkin, and time, she started to feel much better.  Two weeks after the radiation, Sasha had to go back in for blood tests to see if she could continue taking Palladia – which she had started between her last vaccine on September 19th, and her radiation, December 2nd.  The decision was made to discontinue the Palladia.

By the week before Christmas, Sasha was back to normal, or as normal as she can be at this point.  On Saturday, December 21st we took her and Tommy swimming.  It had been a while.  Here’s a video of her swimming:

Since then, Sasha has been doing OK.  The progression of the disease is obvious, and the symptoms are difficult to witness.   Sasha almost never bears weight on her left leg any more, and she has started to roll her foot in a way that causes her to step on her  knuckles instead of the pads of her foot.   However, she has stopped bearing weight on her left foot, and steps on her knuckles instead.  We believe this is probably due to the tumor pressing against her spine.

On Monday, December 30th, she went in for Zolendronate, Carboplatin and some blood which came back looking good.  She was a bit under the weather on Tuesday, December 31st, but she’s back to ‘normal’ again.

With Sasha not bearing weight on her left foot and therefore not using that leg much, she doesn’t walk as much as she did just a little over a month ago.   But please don’t think that Sasha is just lying around all the time.  This girl gets up and ‘runs’ when she feels like it…if she’s not up to it, she knows that mom and dad will pick her up and take her outside to enjoy fresh air and/or do her business.

Now that taking long walks is not really an option for Sasha, we’ve started to use something to help her enjoy outings to some of her favorite places.

Out for a Christmas walk:

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Yeap, she is in a Gorilla garden cart.   I’ll write a short post about Sasha’s Gorilla cart in the near future.

Dec 192013
 

We know we you all an update on Sasha, and we promise that one is coming.  There’s been a lot going on the past couple of months or so, and we’ve neglected to make time to write.  We are sorry.  While we work on the update, take a look at some pictures and a video of Sasha and Argus enjoying an outing to Horse Shoe Farm Park, one of the many places they like to go.

The Originals, Sasha and Argus, enjoying a cool morning at Horse Shoe Farm Park:

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And here’s a little video of the two of them simply enjoying being outside Smile

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Aug 112013
 

Tommy “The Little Man”, is out of commission.  On July 18, he had TPLO surgery to repair his ACL in his left leg.  He will be under strict crate confinement for up to three months!!  Well, he does get to lay on the sofa while we watch TV, but other than that, and when he goes out to do his business, he is in the crate.  He was also a funnel head up until his stitches came out.

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Tommy was not a happy camper for the first few days of crate confinement.  There was a lot of crying and whining, but he eventually calmed down and accepted his sentence behind bars.

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The surgery was performed by Dr. Clary at The Brentwood Animal Hospital.  Dr. Clary also performed TPLO surgery on Alli about 5 years ago, and he amputated Sasha’s arm when she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in March of 2012.  We are very grateful for having such a good surgeon and a wonderful man to take care of our dogs.  As long as Dr. Clary continues to practice, he will handle all of our animals’ major surgeries.

Tommy is doing great.  In fact, I don’t think he realizes that he is in recovery.  We have to be VERY careful with him, because he seems to feel no pain from the surgery.  After her surgery, Alli seemed to know that she was in a fragile state, and we never had a problem with her wanting to do something that might cause further injury to her joint.  As Dr. Neuenscwander says, Tommy is a bone head, and we need to be extra vigilant over him while he heals.

Next Friday, August 16, 2013, Tommy will have X-rays taken to see how he’s healing.  Fingers crossed he is healing well and fast.  He may not need to serve the full three month sentence in his cage.  Alli was allowed out after two months.

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Jul 162013
 

This past Saturday, Sasha woke up very happy and very spunky.  She was being very vocal, and was acting super excited to go outside.  After she had been outside for a few minutes, I asked her if she wanted her ‘frisbee’ (Kong Flying disk).  Since her re-diagnosis, we have not been playing with her in ways that cause her to run for fear that her bones might fracture.  That concern was still with us on Saturday, but Sasha’s enthusiasm won us over.  We could not tell her, no.

I called the other dogs inside so as to prevent potential collisions in all the excitement.  Argus got to stay out because three-legged Sasha is faster than he is and can maneuver more quickly than him, too.  Check out this video…

Sasha continues to surprise and amaze us.  I believe that one day, thanks to Dr. Mason, Sasha and the other dogs in the Mason Bone Cancer Study, lives will be improved.

Tommy Turned Six

 Posted by
Jul 132013
 

Tommy, the baby of the family, celebrated his sixth birthday on Saturday June 22, 2013.  It marked five years since we found him walking on the very busy Capital Blvd here in Raleigh.  I could not have anticipated, on that very special Sunday, that this little man would still be with us 5 years later.  But he is.  He managed to win me over 🙂  How could I resist that sweet cuddle bug?!

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We celebrated his birthday by buying him a Chipotle bowl and cupcakes from The Fresh Market.  Being the good boy that he is, he shared his treats with the whole gang.

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Everyone enjoyed their portion of the Chipotle bowl and their cupcakes for desert; however,  I think they could have done without the party hats!

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Jun 262013
 

A little over two months ago, we wrote a post about our ‘big guy’, Argus.  In that post, we mentioned how Argus is getting up in years and moving a little slower than he used to.  Argus’ heart and mind are the same as they have always been.  He is loyal, loving, courageous and sweet as ever.  The problem is his body, though built like a rock, is not quite as durable as his strong yet sweet and devoted character.  Most likely the inescapable conclusion of a life lived all-out, but also a sentence handed to him by his parents and less than perfect genetics.

We first noticed that Argus was showing signs of discomfort a little while after his tenth birthday.  At the time, we thought his energy was diminishing due simply to the fact that he was getting old.  As time went by, we started picking up on little cues that pointed to pain.  He walked and ran just fine, but seemed to struggle to stand after lying in one position for a period of time.  Argus was always more than happy to go for a walk or play at the park, but he didn’t seem to want to stand still for more than a few minutes at a time.  He began to take stairs more slowly than usual, and began to adopt a two-leg hop when climbing the three stairs to get into our house, rather than the typical left right, left right steps he had always used in times past.  As time went one, new symptoms developed, and the ones mentioned above worsened.

With most of our attention focused on Sasha with her cancer, our other dogs, sadly, were probably neglected some attention.  We didn’t take them out to play, walk or hike as often as we had done before our home was visited by those rogue, mutated cells in Sasha’s body.  And we may have been a little less mindful of any discomforts that our other dogs were feeling.  We were late to do something about the pain that Argus was feeling in his joints, but not TOO late.

While researching canine arthritis and learning the different options that were available, we came across the beautiful story of Schoep and his owner.  Schoep was completely debilitated by his arthritis, and his only relief seemed to come from floating on his master’s chest in the waters of Lake Superior.  A photographer and friend captured the beautiful display of love and commitment between Shoep and his owner in the lake, and posted the photograph on his Facebook account.  The response was overwhelming, and soon, people began to donate money so that Shoep could receive laser treatments to help ease his aching body.  The results were amazing!  Before the laser treatments, Schoep was unable to stand or walk on his own.  After just a few sessions, Schoep was back to taking walks with his owner, and seemed to be happy and enjoying life again.  We were very excited about exploring laser treatment options for Argus.

We found a few clinics near our home that offered the treatment, and we called around to compare cost and convenience.  Once we decided on a clinic to go to, we set up an appointment right away.

Argus just finished his sixth treatment on Monday, June 24.  He seems to be getting around better, and he doesn’t limp as much after physical exertion or long periods of inactivity.  Also, we’ll occasionally glance out a window and see Argus running in the yard.  He doesn’t go very far, and he often doesn’t seem to have a goal to achieve or a destination to reach, but he’s running!  We are so happy to see our ‘Big Guy’ feeling better and getting around more easily.

We used to joke about how our dogs would be as they got older.  In some cases, our imagination was quite accurate; failing eye sight, loss of hearing, and even dementia (all Argus <smiley face>), but there have been other changes in our dogs that we did not anticipate.  We never imagined that the once unstoppable force that feared nothing, loved everything and brought so much joy to our home could ever be slowed down.  The unfortunate truth is, Argus is uncomfortable everyday due to arthritis, and the disease has taken its toll on his usual active and energetic character.  We want to do whatever we can to sooth the aches in our old man’s body, and help him be as happy as he can be.  I think we are on the right track with laser therapy.

FYI: Schoep turned 20 on June 15, 20130!

Argus

 Posted by
Apr 032013
 

A while ago, while commenting to win a pet portrait over at Young House Love blog, I realized we owed Argus  a well-deserved post.  He is, after all, our first boy Smile

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Argus 2My comment reads, “He is the most stable, loyal and loving dog I have ever met.  Once, when a Mastiff crawled under a chain link fence into our yard and was coming straight at me with ill intent, Argus “wrestled” him (without barking, without growling, without biting, without even spiked fur) until the Mastiff was exhausted and delirious and just plopped on the ground.  After the Mastiff’s owner came to take away his dog, Argus was like, “boy that was fun” and his tail wagged furiously.  Even though the Mastiff was aggressive, Argus did not show an ounce of aggression of his own.  He is the perfect dog who loves everyone.  He’s always had an especially tender place in his heart for the elderly. He used to enjoy sitting on my husband’s grandfather’s lap (all 82 pounds of him) to watch tv, and he’s been known to jump out of our car window to walk beside gray haired men on the sidewalk.

Even now, at over 12 years old, Argus’ head is as soft as velvet.  His demeanor has not changed one bit – he is still an amazingly well tempered dog.  His courage and love have not diminished; his patience with everyone and everything has not faded.  His “just do it” attitude has not changed.  His age, however, is catching up with him, and he has slowed down quite a bit.

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Seeing the big guy uncomfortable and in pain because of his arthritis made me realize that he isn’t the invincible dog that I once thought he was.  He is mortal, just like everyone else.  Today, Argus weighs 70 pounds and is still an impressive specimen.  He still acts like a puppy at times, but he has slowed down quite a bit.  It hurts to see him age, and the thought of him not being around forever, hurts, especially with what is going on with Sasha.  Argus and Sasha came into our lives at about the same time and have been with us for over twelve years.  Now they are both in declining health, and thinking of the unthinkable is becoming a more frequent occurrence for me.  What will I do when the originals are gone?

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