One Year Without Tate

I’ve had such mixed feelings about posting on the one-year anniversary of losing Tate.  But it wouldn’t feel right to let the day pass without posting here.  And so first I just want to say that I don’t cry as much anymore but I still think about him every day, mostly with smiles but the pain is still so sharp at times.  Tate was our first dog and my “heart” dog.

Looking back, I see that his blog was very therapeutic for me to write.  Tripawds is a place where we can indulge our emotions and someone is always there for you.  So if you happened to get here on a search (I found Tripawds with a hit on someone’s blog), I’m here to tell you this is a great place for support.

I’ve tried (sometimes) to offer helpful information for someone dealing with histiocytic sarcoma or a hemipelvectomy.  If you have questions, just PM tatespeeps at Tripawds and I’ll respond.

I’ve had some other things on my mind as well so please indulge me now for a few minutes.  This first thing is important but if you’re reading this I might be too late.  If you have a larger size dog, 60+ lbs., and they start limping inexplicably, please get x-rays.  I can’t tell you how many Tripawds members, myself included, lost valuable time doing the “painkillers and see how he does” thing.  Do this even if they are young, Tate was only 4 years old.

Most people say their dog was fine with amputation, same as before but pain-free, all that.  That’s not always true.  Tate loved to play with other dogs before his amp but not after.  He tried to play with his best friend Loretta but it wasn’t working like it was supposed to so he avoided playing.  The only dog he would play with was his little sister Sam.

His behavior toward me changed after his amp.  He used to do this thing where he’d lick my wrist, just lay his tongue on my wrist while I pet him but he never did that again until the day he died.  Other little ways to show his affection.  I think maybe he didn’t trust me anymore.  When they were taking him in for the surgery, he wouldn’t go and I knelt down and told him it would be okay.  But then it wasn’t.  They chopped his leg off and that was not okay with him.  Just know that your dog might not be the same, depends on the dog.  Tate was a sensitive boy.

I think it is important to never forget that your dog has cancer, no matter how well they are doing.  The end won’t be as much of a sucker-punch that way.  Don’t dwell on it but use it constructively.

Please, please, please treat your dog responsibly at the end.  Most people do but a few do not and so I feel compelled to say it.  Same thing when you are considering treatment options.  Every responsible dog owner asks “I am I doing this for me or for him?”  If you haven’t seriously asked yourself that question, ask it now.  Remember what we love about dogs, that they live in the moment.  I wanted Tate to have one more summer at the cabin.  Would he have chosen amputation to have one more summer at the cabin?  Beats me, it’s a silly question.  But I do know now that the summer at the cabin was for me at least as much as it was for Tate.   Anyway, please – respect their moments.

When it’s over, be careful who you share your grief with and do whatever helps you heal.  Healing is intentional, it takes work, and it is very personal.

Finally, don’t second-guess yourself.  Whatever decisions you made are, by definition, right.  We all just do the best we can when we’re dealt a crummy hand.

Well, I feel better having gotten that off my chest.  Thanks for reading.  Now I could write pages and pages about Tate and how perfect he was but you would probably find that boring so I’ll just share a few (well, kind of a lot) of my favorite pictures of my good, smart boy.

Tate loved going to our cabin
That black dot in the water is Tate swimming – a favorite activity
Tate fishing
Relaxing on the deck


Keeping watch on his lake
He’d run around and explore on that lake no matter how cold it was
He loved the snow, too
Wrestling with Loretta
He had an instant crush on Faith
Play bow at the dog park
But not everyone was friendly!
Lake Michigan was a favorite
Little Sister Sam
My good smart boy






Tate’s Final Resting Place

We scattered Tate’s ashes at the cabin – his favorite place.

I know some people like to keep their dog’s ashes but I knew I wouldn’t ever let him go if we kept them.  So we sprinkled them from the top of the hill, down his path to the lake, along the shore and in the water.

From the cabin, I could see four ashy splotches in the water, like ghostly pawprints.  I kept checking to see if they were still there, like I used to check on him to make sure he was still there.  But when we were all packed to go, I couldn’t leave them there.  It was too much like leaving him there alone (crazy, I know.)  So I went and dispersed them, “Go play, my good smart boy.”

I cried a lot but I feel better knowing he’s now part of his favorite place in the whole world.

“The Tate Years”

“The Tate Years” drew to a peaceful conclusion today.  After Friday’s Celebration, he declined quickly.  The diuretics were no longer working.  This morning he made it clear he was ready and refused any more meds.

Tate was truly a blessing in our lives.  If I could think of one negative thing about him, one shred, I would latch onto it and say, “Well, at least I don’t have to put up with that anymore!”  But I can’t, he was perfect.  He was always obedient, whether he wanted to obey or not.  He was always happy, his tail always wagging.   He made everything better.  He made all our cabin trips more fun.   He brought so much joy to my mom when she was too incapacitated to enjoy much.  He taught us the importance of “Now” and so much more.  He was always, always there for us.

God’s gentle plan is evident all over Tate’s passing, starting with a sunny 57o on Friday for Tate’s Farewell Celebration, which was followed by a drizzly weekend in the 30’s.  He played a little with Sam on Saturday.  He slept most of Sunday.  Very early this morning, he cried for the first time.  He would take 2 Tram but no more.  He was able to make it outside and then hid under the low boughs of the spruce tree.  He refused to eat.  Rick was able to coax him inside, and we just spent time with him until the vet’s office opened.  We knew the clock was ticking, but we were able to get him in to the vet before the pain meds wore off and everything went okay.  So he went quickly and did not suffer.

Thanks to all of you for being with us on this journey.  Please don’t be sad, be happy that Tate came into our lives and changed us for the better.  He was our irreplaceable, good, smart boy.

“In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely try to train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog.”- Edward Hoagland

My Perfect Boy

Tate’s Excellent Farewell Celebration (or Why Tripawds Peeps are the Best!)

Well, when the local Tripawds community heard the latest on Tate’s diagnosis, they said, “Hey!  The weather is going to be nice this Friday so let’s all go to the beach so we can play with Tate!  Let’s celebrate and be happy we got to be friends with Tate!”  So here’s Tate’s story about his Most Excellent Farewell Celebration of Life!

Eveyone tried to be there
The bouncy Cadence was there
The lovely Isabelle was there
My best girl Gingy was there
And of course, my little sister Sam was there

And MAN!  Did we PLAY!

After awhile, I got tired and had to take a break
When it was time to go, Aunt Cynthia let me use this warm and fuzzy robe. She didn't want me to get cold because I was all wet!

I felt so good and happy when our visit was over, and I got lots of special treats and toys.  Sammy and I ate Pup Corn on the way home (from Aunt Annie and Uncle Brian!), and then I had a good long nap.  Then I got up and had special lamb topping on my kibble (from Aunt Cynthia!) and more turkey.  Then I had another nap and Mom said my paws were running while I was sleeping.

 Today just proves that Tripawds people really ARE the best! 

Special thanks for Cynthia for arranging, to Brian for driving so far to bring Ginger (we missed you Annie!) and to Heather for bringing her camera (we’re looking foward to seeing your pictures!) and to everyone for showing up on short notice to make this part of the journey a lot more bearable.

November Update

Wow, things went south quickly.  I’m not going to speculate about how we got here, too much potential for “If only…”or “Why didn’t we…” and I just will not go there.  This is all going according to God’s plan, whether I like it or not (and I don’t.  And He knows it.)

So we learned a couple days ago that Tate’s cancer has spread all throughout his abdomen and it is so extensive there is nothing that can be done.   (Although we had decided ahead of time that we weren’t going to do anything, we decided Tate’s had enough.  It really bothered me that he went through x-rays and ultrasound to diagnose this but he’s done with all that now.)  We had no indication anything was seriously wrong; we just noticed he was drinking a lot and then he woke me up a couple times during the night to go out.  Really, I thought it was a side effect of the metronomics, they’d adjust and we’d move on.  His appetite and energy have been fine, everything has been so normally normal you couldn’t get any more normal.   Well, I did notice then that his remaining rear leg was swollen, I probed all around it and he didn’t flinch but I just thought “That’s odd”.  Of course, when the vet examined him, red flags went up everywhere and off Tate went for tests and more tests.  The swelling is edema, the vet explained the mechanism but I don’t remember it.  But the point was, there was nothing in any of Tate’s blood work to indicate a cause and so it must be…a malignancy.  Which ultrasound confirmed.

We found all this out one day before we were leaving for TN and KY.  Yep, we were going to visit ET Gayle.  Rent a cabin on a lake, explore a new part of the country and visit some friends in KY on the way back.  At first, we thought we’d shift gears and go to our own cabin instead but decided the drive might be too much for Tate.  If we could be magically transported there, well, then.  That would be another story.

We also decided on a home euthanasia.  That’s because we really do want to keep Tate out of the vet’s office.

So here we are.  Tate is doing well.  He likes being spoiled, last night he looked at me over his shoulder:  “Time for my belly rub, Mom.”  Today, he turned his nose up at kibble, “You don’t really expect me to eat this, do you?”  : )    He ran a bit with Sam this morning – she wants to play with him so bad but is cutting a wide path around him (thankfully).  He tires easily but we’ve figured out the pain meds and no adverse side effects.  The edema is worrisome but the vet tech assured us that as uncomfortable as it looks, the pain meds are taking care of that.

I can’t tell you how much all your responses to my forum question have helped.  This is such a crummy path to travel but I feel like I have you all holding me up, literally holding me up under the arms like you do with a little kid learning to walk.  This is not a walk I want to learn.  Can’t we just go to the Grand Canyon instead?


October Update

Not much new to report but I thought I should just let visitors know Tate’s still alive.  He’s getting around fine on three legs with little noticeable effects except sometimes he’s a little cautious and slow sitting down and he doesn’t dodge as well as he used to.  But he’s happy, especially now that the weather is cool, and just the same ol’ Tater Tot.

He’s on metronomics and has been on Rimadyl since about January so we had his liver checked last month and everything was fine.  All his blood chemistry that was out of whack after his last chemo treatment is back to normal and staying there – except for eosinophil (whatever that is).  They tested him for parasites but I suspect it might be an allergy, he was waking up sneezing but that’s subsided so we’ll see what the next blood test brings.

I know, kind of a boring report but sometimes boring is good.

When we started this journey early last spring, I just wanted Tate to have one more summer at the cabin.  Well, he was able to have that, we spent as much time as we could up there and Tate had a wonderful summer. Now he’s enjoying the autumn, I think everything must smell better in the fall the way his nose is working over time.  It’s such a pleasure just to see him lying on the stoop early in the morning, when it’s so quiet and dark and he’s just taking in every single thing.  Yep, he is one happy dog.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that if you are going to have one dog, you should have two.  So they can be dogs together.  Much as I love Tate, I’m not all that interested in that stinky thing in the bushes and I’m definitely not going to lick his face and ears or bite his head.  But Little Sister Sam will do all that for him, and more.  She loves him to pieces.  Here are a few pics of them playing together.

This girl just has way too much energy
Demon Girl



The Best Grandma Ever

The doctor said that my Grandma is really sick and he can’t say how long it will be but they should talk to hospice (whoever that is!) and Mom is really sad so I thought I’d make this album of me and Grandma and maybe that would cheer her up.

I have the best Grandma in the whole wide world because she always just loves me and pets me and talks to me so nice.  When we go to visit, I run ahead and go straight to Grandma’s room and barge right in!  She’s always so happy to see me and wants me to stay overnight!  And she always has treats!  She likes to feed me a bunch of treats but Mom makes her give them to me one at a time.  Now that Sammy’s here, we take turns getting treats from Grandma.

Here are some pictures of me and my Grandma.

This is the very first time I met Grandma. I liked her right away!
Grandma likes car rides as much as I do!
See how much Grandma loves me?
This is a valentine I made for Grandma (my Daddy helped me)
Here's me waiting for Grandma to come downstairs so we could go out and play
Now Sam loves Grandma too..but not as much as I do


Tripawds at the Beach

Some of the Chicagoland Tripawds met at Montrose Beach the other day and despite the typical Chicago weather, we all had a great time.  True to form, it was just beautiful at my house and at Ginger’s house…but Isabelle lives near the lake and knows all about “lake effect”!  Which means it was cloudy and way windy at the beach and it also means WAVES!

 All the humans were too busy chatting to take many pictures (what’s up with that, anyway?  Don’t they know a good “Woof” speaks volumes?)  So we have no pictures of Ginger rolling in the surf or Isabelle playing with the Great Danes or me playing in the lake.  But here is a group shot:

Three Tripawds

We were all so glad to celebrate Ginger’s 11th birthday!  PLUS, Ginger has now exceeded 16 months as a Tripawd!  Two fabulous reasons to celebrate sweet Ginger in all her Gingerness glory.

Birthday Girl

 We were ALSO celebrating the very lovely Isabelle’s (almost) ONE WHOLE YEAR Ampuversary, a very special milestone indeed.   And we heard the story about how Isabelle was rescued from Hurricane Katrina and came to live with her mom Cynthia (and a bunch of monkeybutt cats, I might add.)  Yaaaayyy Isabelle!

Isabelle at One Year Post-Amp

 We also had one more thing to celebrate and that was my 5th birthday (well, in two more days).

Birthday Boy

So you can see we had lots of great reasons to celebrate and celebrate we did, in true Tripawds style.  We like Tripawds peeps and dogs so well we’re going to try to do it again in September.  Hopefully next time Holly and our new friend Chili Dawg will be there, and maybe even Trouper, too!  Plus anyone and everyone that wants to join us!


P.S.  My mom said I have to post a picture of my monkeybutt little sister Sam so here it is.

Sam, a.k.a. Cindy Lauper (she just wants to have fun)


Metronomics – No Problem!

Tate’s been on metronomics for about a month now.  Seems he had a little trouble the first few days, barfed a couple of times.  Someone peed in the house and I think it was him, not Sam.  But since then no problems whatsoever…well, an ear infection but I think that’s just too much lake water in his ears.  He’s on 12 mg of cytoxan and 100 mg of Rimadyl every day, plus fish oil.  His white blood cell count is back up to normal, all his blood work is normal, everything looks normal.  This is a normal we can live with, hopefully for a long, long time!

We’ve just been taking advantage of summer to enjoy him and love him.  Another long cabin trip earlier this month, visits to the beach, visits to Grandma’s (there’s a pond there…hmmm, can you tell Tate loves water?)  We are so thankful for this time.  His birthday is next week and  I remember when we were so worried he’d never see his 5th birthday – see how useless that worry was?

Just a note about Tate’s birthday.  I posted this earlier but it’s pretty cool so I’ll post it again.  My sister, who passed away about a year after we got Tate, was a huge, huge animal lover.  She had a real menagerie of pets.  She was SO happy when we got Tate – she just wants everyone to be happy, and being happy means having a pet to love.  So she was REALLY happy when my brother got his first dog, too.  She’s a cute little boxer named Toots.  And the cool part is that Diane’s birthday was August 16th, Tate’s birthday is August 16th, and Toots’ birthday is also August 16th.  The stars are all aligned, everyone is right where they should be, we’re all part of the cosmic plan.  Life is good.

What I did on my Summer Vacation by Tate

 For my summer vacation, we went to our cabin up in northern Wisconsin.  It’s a long drive and I was stuck in the back with Sam almost the whole entire time, except when she scrambled up in the front seat to bother my mom.
I knew where we were going when we were 50 miles away!  I could just smell the pine trees and lakes and I knew.  So I started crying because I was so excited!  But then we finally got there.  I jumped out of the truck and when Mom said, “Clear!” I ran down the hill straight into the lake.
I went swimming - a lot!


I taught Sam how to swim, too.
She kept on bugging me!
We were in the 4th of July Parade! I sat in the truck with Dad and we took this picture of the people watching the parade and catching candy that we all were throwing to them.
We went for boat rides every day
Then when we got tired we took a nap
All too soon, we had to leave. I can't wait until we go back.
But in the meantime, it’s all about NOW!*

*Courtesy of Admin, from “Stop and Smell the Roses – A Mutts Treasury”  : )