Flying Peepees!

 Posted by
Mar 052014
 

Sasha has this new thing that she likes to do.  Or, at least, she gives me the impression that she enjoys doing it.  I call it flying peepees.

When Liliana and I get home from work, we each have our jobs to do.  Actually, it starts at the end of our road. When I turn on to our road, I accelerate to about 35 mph, (the posted speed limit) and then put the car into neutral and coast all the way to our driveway.  Stealth is the name of the game, and only when we reach our driveway do I need to shift into 1st gear and zoom up the hill.  Almost simultaneously, when the car comes to a stop, I turn the ignition off and pull the key out, pull the handbrake up and open my door.  Liliana is also hurriedly exiting the vehicle at this same time.  As I walk the few steps from my car to the house, I find the house key and bring it into position to slide into the keyhole.  The key goes in, I twist and the tumblers slide and fall and the door opens.  I dance my way in through the tangle of dogs with Liliana no more than a pace behind.  We are moving as quickly as possible while doing our best to avoid stepping on any of the sixteen quickly moving paws of Argus, Alli, Tommy and Shelby.  I take the western route past the dining table while Liliana takes the eastern pass and opens the French doors to the backyard releasing the long-cooped up pack.  As the last of the dogs, usually Argus, flies off the deck stairs, I am speeding back through the dining area with Sasha in my arms.  I never know how far I’ll make it.  Sometimes I don’t make it off the deck, and sometimes I almost make all the way to the back fence when it happens.  FLYING PEEPEES!!!!

I think Sasha’s aerial urination practice began one day when we took a little too long getting home, and she just couldn’t wait for me to put her down on the grass – or whatever the green stuff is that we have growing in our yard.  After that time, flying peepees has become a daily practice for Sasha.  Sometimes, Sasha will do flying peepees even if she has recently been outside. This is why I have come to the conclusion that Sasha simply enjoys relieving her bladder from a higher place.

Oct 012013
 

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Hi everybody.  I wanted to give you all an update on Sasha.  I’m happy to say that she is doing very well.  Her left leg continues to be a little painful, but she is getting around just fine.  The last few days have been particularly good.  I think part of it is that Liliana and I are back to a normal work schedule, and when we return home (we commute together), Sasha greets us with all the other dogs by barking and making a variety of sounds to express her displeasure with us for having been away for too long!  She has a bit of a temper when she is upset.  She then trots over to us for a quick pet, and then runs to the French doors to be let out in the back yard.  All the other dogs do the same thing, but Sasha is COMPETITIVE, and she barks and tries to work her way to the front of the pack.  Liliana and I are afraid that she will get knocked over and hurt by the other dogs, but you should see the excitement and intensity in her eyes!  She continues to surprise and amaze us!

Sasha double pic

I wrote, in my last post, that Sasha would be going back to UPenn to be re-vaccinated.  Liliana and Sasha made the trip on their own this time.  They arrived in Philly on Wednesday, September 18th, and spent the night in a hotel.  Sasha has always enjoyed hotels, but this time was her first time being in one without the whole family.  From what Liliana told me, Sasha didn’t seem to mind.

Sasha asking for water  Resting  20130919_080539_resized  20130919_073729_resized

The next morning, the girls headed out to the hospital.  As usual, Sasha was super happy to see Dr. Mason.  Liliana captured this short video of their reunion on her phone.

The re-vaccination went well.  In Sasha’s discharge papers, Dr. Mason wrote “Sasha tolerated her 5th vaccination relatively well.”  As expected, Sasha developed a fever, and in fact, it was the highest fever recorded in any dog participating in the trial.  The fever was brought down by the use of fluids and anti-inflammatory treatment.  Sasha also vomited several times, but this was brought under control with an anti-emetic.  Dr. Mason wrote, “Her white blood cell changes today are not typical of what we usually see, and one possible explanation is that her immune response is somewhat suppressed by her tumor burden.  Her clinical signs following vaccination, however, do indicate that her immune system was able to ‘see’ the vaccine, and respond in the immediate post-vaccination period”.

Liliana and Sasha said their goodbyes to Dr. Mason on Friday, 20Sep, and started driving to Hagerstown, MD to spend the night with my aunt and my grandfather.  Sasha enjoyed being out in the yard in the cool air, but I think, even more than that, she enjoyed the food!  She got to eat some Lil’ Wieners, Lil’ Smokies, Cuban chicken salad, and some of her mom’s taco!  She was spoiled, but that’s ok – she’s been through a lot.

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I was very happy to see my girls return on Saturday.  I missed them, but I know that they had a good time out on the road, in the hotel, and at my aunt’s house.  Plus, Sasha got to see her friend, Dr Mason.  I know that made her happy.  We know the disease is progressing, but we hope that, along with Sasha’s strong spirit and stubbornness, the vaccine will help keep her with us for longer.  For now, we’re just going to keep enjoying life.

Ready to go back home!

Sep 172013
 

Sasha-Horseshoe-14SepHi everybody.  It is time for another Sasha update.  The first thing that I want to tell you all is that September 14, 2013 marks eighteen months since Sasha’s amputation.  We certainly are not celebrating the amputation, but we are so happy to still have Sasha with us.  She wasn’t supposed to survive this long, but Sasha is a fighter!  She is a strong and stubborn girl, and she doesn’t know how to give up.  We love Sasha so much, and we will continue to be by her side every step of the way and help her as best we can.  Thank you to everyone who comes here and reads this blog and sends their love, thoughts and prayers.  We all hope that medical intervention helps our loved ones feel better and live longer, but I think that love may be the most powerful medicine, anesthetic and motivation to keep going that there is.  Every day that Sasha continues to beat the odds is a gift that will last us a lifetime.  Here’s to more months!!

On with the update – Sasha has been feeling well and has been much more active than she had been a few weeks ago.  I think the palliative radiation did its magic, and now Sasha is very mobile once again.  I still like to help her down the deck stairs to do her business, but sometimes she is simply too fast for me to catch when I open the door to the backyard.  She has been a little spoiled when it comes to eating, but you’ll read more about that in a bit.

Sasha is going back to UPenn to see her friend, Dr. Mason, and to be re-vaccinated.  I am sure Sasha will be so excited to see Dr. Mason as she always is.  Liliana and Sasha will be making the trip to PA on their own this time due to my work, the short notice of this visit, and all of our other dogs needing care.  I wish I could go, but I know that Liliana and Sasha will have a great mother-daughter bonding experience during their time together at the hotel and on the road.

Since it is late on Tuesday night, and the girls head out for PA tomorrow, I am going to copy and paste an e-mail here that I recently sent to Dr. Mason.  I sent the e-mail on September 10 (Sasha has continued to improve since this e-mail).

Hi Dr. Mason.  I am forwarding you radiographs of Sasha that were taken at NCSU on 06Sep2013.  They also did a bone scan; you may be able to request those views if you like (you certainly have my permission if that is needed).  The news is not good.  It appears that your suspicions were correct.  The doctors at NCSU say that Sasha has a lesion on her humerus, and that her femur and pelvis look worse.  The way that Dr. Wilcox explained the lesion on Sasha’s humerus is basically thisIf it were not for the fact that she knows Sasha has osteosarcoma, she would not feel certain about what she sees on the radiographs.  It is only because she knows Sasha’s condition that she feels confident that the cancer has spread to Sasha’s humerus.

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Sasha went in for palliative radiation to her rear this past Friday, and for her humerus this past Monday.  So far, we cannot really tell how much better Sasha is feeling, if at all, due to the radiation.  She is using her special manipulative powers to gain sympathy from Liliana and me.  Here is the story with that: Sasha has been whimpering a lot since we brought her home on Friday, and even more after Monday’s session at NCSU.  She has been looking at us with a sort of empty expression and parted lips so that her gums are visible.  When I brought her home on Friday, I was very concerned because she refused to use her legs.  I assisted her in the house and in the yard via her harness, and her rear legs were absolutely jello-like.  Her feet were limp, and they actually turned so that the top sides rolled and dragged as I assisted her around the house.  Now, here is the other side of the story: After seeing how bad Sasha looked, I was scared and my sister and I were talking about how she looked.  Liliana walked past us into our bedroom and I guess she took too long for Sasha’s liking, because to my sister’s and my amazement, there went Sasha.  She was doing her three legged gallop in search of Liliana!!  There’s more.  Sasha seems to only whimper when someone is with her.  If she is left alone in a room, the whimpering mysteriously stops!  She seems to have no appetite unless there is Feta cheese in her kibble, or some very special soft food mixed in with her kibble.  For this special treat, she came galloping out to eat with the rest of the pack – something we have not had her do for a few days.  It seems that the right motivation makes her legs feel better and her appetite improve!

So, as I said earlier, and as I told Dr. Mason, Sasha is feeling much better than she had been.  We’ve taken her out to a couple parks, and she has really enjoyed herself.  The weather is cooling down, so that will help perk Sasha up, too!  We’ll write again soon to let you know how Sasha’s trip to PA goes.  Wish her well!

 

Sep 042013
 

Sasha-Hot-Springs-4Hi everybody!  It has been a while since our last post, and some of you have asked for an update on how Sasha is doing.  Well, I am happy to let you all know that, as I am writing this post, Sasha is chillin’ on her Big Shrimpy dog bed.  And I say that quite literally; Sasha is stretched out on the bed, and we have a fan blowing directly on her.  Cooler weather is on the way, but for now, Sasha needs fans to keep cool!

In our last post about Sasha, we wrote that she was feeling great, and we included a video of her playing with her ‘frisbee’. Since then, Sasha has gone through some ups and downs.  She remained happy, healthy and active for a couple weeks after that post, but then there was a little incident.

Sasha started to show lameness in her arm.  It seemed to start one day after she got down from our bed.  We recently purchased a new mattress.  We decided to do without a frame or a box spring so that it would be low for Sasha’s benefit.  We also have two dog beds at the foot end of our bed that we keep partly under our mattress so that they are stable and do not move so as to make getting down easier for Sasha.  Unfortunately, Sasha decided to get down onto another dog bed that we have next to our bed (Yes, we have many dog beds).  That particular bed was not secured under our mattress, and it slid out as Sasha stepped onto it.

At first, we didn’t connect that incident with her new lameness.  In fact, we thought that she was experiencing pain in her left leg.  I suppose we automatically assumed the worst when we saw her stumbling around, and thought that the pain was coming from her leg or hip, where she has tumors.  I’m sure that if she still had both arms, it would have been obvious what was going on, but with only one arm and a leg with cancer, we were fooled.  I don’t remember exactly what Sasha did that finally made it clear that her arm is where the pain was.  If I supported her front end, she would plant both rear feet firmly on the ground and support her rear without a problem.  If I removed support from her front end, she would collapse.

Unfortunately, Sasha is now clearly showing that she is feeling pain in her rear.  I babied her as much as I could once I realized that her arm was hurting her.  I carried her everywhere, and used her Ruffwear harness to help her do her business outside.  I figured that the cause of the pain that she was feeling in her arm was due to an injury from getting down off of our bed, and so by helping her to not use her arm, it might heal.  The good news is that her arm is feeling much better.  She is able to walk around now on her own, unassisted.  There is more to tell about Sasha’s arm, and her health in general, but I will save that for another post.

–          A couple days have passed since I wrote the above part of this post and the part below –

Sasha came home from NC State today.  She had a bone scan performed on Tuesday, and she needed to spend the night at the hospital until she was no longer radioactive!  I’ll write another post soon to update you all on her status.  Thank you to all who read this blog.  We appreciate the comments, e-mails and all the well wishes.  Liliana and I pass on all of your love and caring to Sasha.

Jun 112013
 

Liliana and I left Raleigh at around 10 PM on Thursday (May 24) and drove through the night with Sasha, Argus and Shelby to my parent’s home in Parkesburg, PA.  We were able to get in a couple hours of sleep before getting Sasha back in the Jeep, and heading to Philly to meet Dr. Mason at UPenn.  Traffic on the Schuylkill expressway was a bear, and it caused us to arrive at the hospital late.

After having the friendly people at the reception desk notify Dr. Mason of our arrival, Liliana, Sasha and I made our way to the seating area to wait for Sasha’s favorite doctor and friend.  It had been four months since our last time at UPenn, and I wondered how Sasha would be.  I wondered if she would be nervous and tremble with fear, as she does when visiting other veterinary hospitals.  I wondered how she would react to seeing Dr. Mason after so much time.  And I wondered if she would give a struggle to leave us behind when it came time for her to go off with the doctor.  I always worry that things will have changed since her last visit to PA, and Sasha might react in the same way that she does at other places.  Well, things have not changed!  Sasha was not trembling in the waiting area of UPenn, and she was ecstatic to see her special friend, Dr. Mason!  We have cellphone video to prove it!

True friends!

Sasha’s return visit to UPenn is not part of the standard protocol for the Mason Bone Cancer Study.  Some evidence exists that suggests administering the genetically modified Listeria vaccine a couple days after palliative radiation may enhance the effects of the vaccine and cause strong anti-tumor activity from Sasha’s immune system.  Dr. Mason made us aware of this finding, and we all decided to give it a go with Sasha.

Sasha was the very first dog to receive the vaccine when the trial started, and she was given the lowest dose.  This time, Dr. Mason administered the highest dose to Sasha.  We weren’t 100% sure what to expect, but we assumed Sasha would react similarly to how she did last year.  IV fluids would be administered to keep her temperature down, and anti-emetics would help reduce nausea.  If the higher dose proved to be too much for Sasha, Dr. Mason would be able to keep things under control with antibiotics, but of course, that would defeat the purpose of what we were trying to achieve. 

Prior to receiving the vaccine, Sasha had blood drawn for a complete blood count, blood chemistry, and a coagulation panel.  The blood work showed that Sasha was very mildly anemic and her lymphocyte count was slightly lower than normal.  All other blood parameters were within normal limits.  Sasha also underwent a cardiac evaluation to ensure that her heart was healthy enough to proceed with the vaccination.  An electrocardiogram was performed to monitor Sasha’s heart for arrhythmias and a complete echocardiogram was performed to evaluate her heart’s ability to contract. The ECG showed that Sasha has a mild degeneration of her mitral, aortic and pulmonary valves.  These findings are associated with aging, and have nothing to do with the cancer, and they existed since the last time Sasha was at UPenn; there have been no appreciable changes since her last visit.  Dr. Mason explained that Sasha’s left ventricle was very mildly enlarged compared to her last evaluation but there was no associated changes that would suggest she has cardiac disease secondary to vaccination. None of the issues found with Sasha’s heart were considered significant enough to prevent her from being vaccinated. 

Thoracic radiographs were taken, and there was no evidence of metastasis to Sasha’s lungs.  A single radiograph was also taken of Sasha’s left femur and pelvis.  While the metastatic bone lesions at both sites were clear to see, there was no evidence that the disease had progressed since Sasha’s last radiographs that were taken by Dr. Neuenschwander at The Brentwood Animal Hospital. 

Dr. Mason gave Sasha an anti-emetic to prevent nausea, and then administered the vaccine at a little past 1:00PM on Friday.  Within a couple hours, Sasha had developed a fever.  Her temperature continued to rise until it peaked at 104.1 six hours post injection. Sasha vomited twice in quick succession while her temperature was at its highest.  Dr. Mason administered fluids via IV, and Sasha’s temperature began to fall.  It was back to within normal limits several hours later.  She also gave Sasha another anti-emetic for her upset stomach, and turned on a fan to help her be more comfortable.  Dr. Mason said that no other adverse events were noted during or after the infusion period, except that Sasha seemed lethargic and a little depressed. 

For the two days after Sasha received the vaccination, Dr. Mason wrote on Sasha’s discharge papers,

“On May 25th, Sasha seemed a little brighter. She ate canned dog food readily twice in the morning.  Repeat blood work was drawn to determine whether vaccination had caused any changes in her red and white blood cell count or changes in her blood biochemistry. The blood work showed that Sasha’s anemia was now more pronounced (PCR 25%) and she was moderately thrombocytopenic (low platelets). Her white blood cell count was unchanged. Her blood chemistry was normal. Sasha showed no clinical signs associated with these blood changes.”

We went back on Sunday for more blood work.  Dr. Mason wrote:

“On May 26th repeat blood work showed that Sasha’s red blood cell count was recovering (PCV 33%) and that her platelets were also coming back up to normal – although still below the normal range (87,000).  These changes were seen last time Sasha received her vaccines although this time, with the higher dose of vaccine, they were more marked. Repeat evaluation of Sasha’s blood chemistry on May 26th showed that Sasha’s liver enzymes were all within normal limits.”

We said our goodbyes to Dr. Mason and took a few photos of Sasha with her good friend.  The trip to PA from NC wasn’t an easy one for us, but we were happy to make it so that Sasha could receive the vaccine again.  We were also excited to see Dr. Mason again, and we know that Sasha was super happy about that, too.  Honestly, bringing Sasha to see Dr. Mason, treatment or no treatment, was worth the trip and any issues and minor hardships that it might cause.  I’m sure Sasha agrees, but she could probably do without all the poking and prodding!

Sasha with Dr. Mason, her favorite vet.

Sasha with Dr. Mason, her favorite vet.

A big thank you to Dr. Mason and to everyone else who helps care for Sasha during her stays at UPenn!  We will continue to take Sasha swimming, and exploring new places.  Check back for updates on Sasha’s progress and to see more photos of her enjoying life!

Jun 012013
 

Hi everybody!  It’s been quite a while since my last post.  I guess I’ve gone so long without writing because I started a new job, we have two long-term, live-in guests at our house, and life just gets in the way.  Honestly, though, probably the biggest reason that I have not written is out of pure laziness.  Writing doesn’t seem like it should be all that energy intensive, but my energy level has been lower than normal.  My brain is sleepy, and it just can’t seem to recuperate.  Oh well, sorry brain, you are going to have to work now.

A few days ago, I realized that Lili’s Notes (I) had been neglecting someone very important.  This person means a lot to our whole family, and has been a part of our lives for practivally eight years.  He has laughed and joked with us, and shared our pain and sorrow, too.  He has mended our broken bodies, and chased away our pains.  We count on him to fix the problems that we cannot, ourselves, fix, and he always looks out for my family’s best interests.  His name is Steve Neuenschwander, but we call him Doctor N.  He is the owner of the Brentwood Animal Hospital, and veterinarian to my five beloved dogs.

In case we haven’t made our feelings completely clear to all of you in the past, Liliana and I love our dogs!  They are a major part of our life, and have been for more than 12 years.  We try to give them good lives, lots of love and the best care possible.  I would jump in a raging river for our dogs, and Liliana has run out in traffic to protect one of our babies.  Y’all had better believe we wouldn’t trust our dogs’ medical care (their lives, really) to just anyone!

Now, I have not attended vet school, so I am not capable of testing Dr. N’s knowledge of veterinary medicine.  I have to assume that his knowledge is sufficient and his experience ample.  There are other personal attributes, though, that I feel fully qualified to assess.

Dr. N Cares.  He is a kind and compassionate man.  This has become unmistakably evident to me for the almost eight years that we have been taking our dogs to Brentwood Animal Hospital.  Dr. N has a nuanced character that some people may not be able to immediately decipher, but I clearly hear and see the different emotions on his face and in his voice.  He is usually happy and in good spirits, but on a rare occasion, I see another side of him.  Sometimes Dr. N is more quiet than usual.  Sometimes he says hello when he walks in the room, and then gets down to business without much in the way of superfluous chit chat.  It is on these rare occasions that I know Dr. N had to, or will have to deliver difficult news to one of his clients.  Dr. N had to deliver such news to Liliana and I twice.  The first time was on March 6, 2012, when he had to tell us that our Sasha had Osteosarcoma.  The second time was on February 26, 2013, when Dr. N informed us that Sasha’s cancer had come back.  He hated having to tell us the bad news both times.  Both times, he said he was sorry and that he wished his diagnosis was wrong.  There is a sincerity in Dr. N’s face and in his tone, and I know that delivering bad news to pet owners affects him deeply.

Dr. N is honest, and humble.  He is an intelligent man with considerable education, but he will never put his pride before the best interests of his clients and the animals with whose care he has been entrusted.  Dr. N has a good working relationship with veterinary specialists who he defers to if he believes any advantage can be offered by allowing these other great doctors to do what they are best at.  I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that.

This post would seem incomplete without mentioning some of the staff at Brentwood Animal Hospital.  Shelly has been a fixture at the office since we first started taking our dogs there.  She is a smiling face, a cheerful voice, and a pleasure to see every time we walk through the front door.  Shelly genuinely cares for every dog, cat, bird and other animal that crosses her path.  She know all the human parents of her furry friends, too, and one gets the feeling that she cares about them as well.  Christina has also been at Brentwood Animal Hospital for as long as we’ve been going there.  She is a vet tech, a whiz at drawing blood, and a friend.  Christina is a natural with animals and all of our dogs love her.  She is proud of the vegetable garden that her and Dr. N built in the back of the hospital, and she enjoys showing it off to us when we go.  Dr. N has a great team with these two wonderful people.  I know for a fact that each one feels  very fortunate to be in the company of the others.

Liliana and I have talked about moving away from Raleigh.  We would like to live in a cooler climate and have more land.  We joke, though, that we would not consider moving as long as Dr. N is still practicing.  To be honest, I’m not sure how much of a joke that is.  When you care as much about your pets as we do, it’s hard to imagine moving away from a place like The Brentwood Animal Hospital.

Check back soon: New updates on Sasha and her battle against osteosarcoma (she goes back to UPenn!!).  Argus gets treatment for his arthritis, and more about the rest of the pack.

 

Scarface

 Posted by
Apr 112013
 

Alli went to the vet yesterday for a lumpectomy. We noticed that she had a small growth in her upper lip (right side of muzzle) about six months ago. We were not too worried at the time. Dr. Neuenschwander felt confident that the bump was benign, but explained to us that if it continued to grow, we should consider having it removed. If we waited too long, it would be difficult to close and suture the wound.

Dr. N removed the lump without any problems, and sent it to the lab for analysis. He said that it looked to be a cyst, but he wanted to be sure. Alli was still in a stupor when we went to pick her up in the afternoon, so we decided, under the advice of Dr. N and Christina, to let her spend the night at the office just in case she opened the incision while staggering around. They would be able to respond to her needs immediately, and we would not take the chance of needing to rush her to a 24 hour clinic and pay hundreds of dollars to have her patched up.

Alli is back home with her family now. Dr. N and Christina said that she was a good patient, but Alli couldn’t get out of the office quickly enough! She kept looking at me with a confused expression and seemed to be asking me why I would take her to that dreaded place and let those mean people do such horrid things to her. Alli is my baby, and she knows just how to pull at my heart strings.

Check out Alli’s incision and stitches. She’s going to have a huge scar, but she’s ok with that because it will give her street cred!IMG_20130410_115946(1)

Apr 062013
 

SashaSasha went to North Carolina State’s veterinary school on Thursday (04/04/13) for her second round of palliative radiation, and her first round of Pamidronate.   The last time I wrote about Sasha, I explained that her condition had quickly deteriorated, and we were hours from saying goodbye to her – forever.  In an effort to dull her pain and make her more comfortable, we increased the dosage of Tramadol that we were giving her.  She got worse.  The pain was too great for the medications that we had on hand, and so our answer to this (supported by two veterinarians) was to increase the amount of Tramadol that we were giving Sasha.  We didn’t know it at the time, but Sasha was not suffering from pain so much as she was experiencing extreme dysphoria from the Tramadol, and it only got worse as we increased the dosage.  This mistake of ours almost cost Sasha her life.

Liliana-Sasha  Carlos-Sasha

After realizing that there was a correlation between when we gave Sasha her Tramadol, and when her suffering was at its worst (30 minutes after Tramadol, Sasha’s eyes were popping out of her head), we immediately reduced the dosage.  Sasha improved dramatically over the course of the first day, and continued to get better the following day.  It was at this time that we knew we needed to find an alternative method of managing Sasha’s pain.

Liliana and I spoke to Dr. Mason from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania the day after we found out that Sasha’s cancer had come back.  We talked about some of the options that were available to help Sasha cope with the pain that was sure to come.  We had a similar conversation, more recently, with Dr. Hauck from the North Carolina State veterinary school.  Both Dr. Mason and Dr. Hauck offered identical advice.  They suggested to continue giving Sasha her oral pain medications (Carprofen, Gabapentin and Tramadol), and also explained the benefits of palliative radiation and Pamidronate.   Unfortunately, it took us longer than it probably should have, but Liliana and I decided to go ahead with palliative radiation treatments as well as Pamidronate infusions.

The results thus far have been very good.  Sasha is mostly back to her old self.  She has enjoyed several outings where she excitedly tugged at her leash because Liliana and I were not walking fast enough for her liking.  We have also taken her swimming at Lap it Up in Durham.  When we first walked into the pool area, we waited with great anticipation, but also a certain amount apprehension and fear, to see if Sasha would get in the pool.  She did!  She swam the entire time we were there, and she did not want to leave when our time was up.  We were so happy and proud of our girl!

Sasha-Diving-LapitUp

If you look closely, you can see the blue target painted on Sasha’s shaven butt for her radiation treatment.

The best part is that the radiation and Pamidronate have not had time to take their full effect.  Sasha will probably experience even more relief in the coming days and weeks!  Liliana and I are fully aware that the cancer is back, and we are under no illusion that the long-term prognosis for Sasha is not good.  That is why we are happy beyond words that Sasha is able to, not only stay with us for longer, but also enjoy herself.  She currently has a very good quality of life, and she finds joy in all of the things in life that have always made her happy.

Sasha-LapitUp

Laser focused and waiting for mom to throw her favorite toy in the pool.

Mar 142013
 

Today marks one year since the amputation of Sasha’s right arm.  Dr. Neuenschwander delivered the bad news of Sasha’s osteosarcoma diagnosis to Liliana and me on March 6, 2012, and eight days later, on March 14, Dr. Clary removed Sasha’s arm, up to and including her scapula.  We brought her home on the 15th and spent the next few days by her side.  I had read stories of other dogs that had limb amputations, and was hoping that, like many of those dogs, Sasha would not suffer terribly from the experience.  Unfortunately for us, and much more so for Sasha, she did suffer quite badly during the first few days after returning home.  I’ll never forget the confused eyes or the heartrending whimpering that was so uncharacteristic of my Sasha.  I will also never forget that it was in my arms that Sasha seemed to find some assuagement from her suffering.

Sasha, day before the surgery

Sasha, day before the surgery

Sasha, day before surgery with mommy

Sasha, day before surgery with mommy

Sasha and Daddy

Sasha with daddy, day after surgery

Happily, Sasha recovered quickly and was able to return to doing the things that she loved.  I always like to tell the story of how Sasha was able to run and catch her Kong flying disk just three weeks after her surgery.  She also enjoyed getting back into the water.  She is the best swimmer in the house, even if with just three legs!

We do not celebrate the one year anniversary of Sasha’s amputation.  It is, after all, not something that we ever imagined happening to our girl, and it is certainly not something that we wanted for her.  Sasha’s one year ampuversary does, however, help us remember that she is beating the odds.  Osteosarcoma is a terrible disease.  Many dogs do not live more than two months after diagnosis, and the vast majority do not make it past the nine month mark.  Sasha is still with us, and we are so grateful for the time that we have with her.  Sasha, you go girl!!

Sasha, swimmin 3/13/13

Sasha at Lap It Up yesterday

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