July Update

First I should explain that I’ve decided to ignore Tate’s ampuversaries.  It just doesn’t work for me, too much like a clock ticking, or maybe a time bomb.  Makes it a little too hard for me to stay “in the moment” when I’m counting time.  But we will continue to celebrate everyone’s ampuversaries, any excuse for special treats!

So, on to the important stuff.  We’re just back from a week at the cabin and I haven’t seen Tate this relaxed and happy in a long time.  He’ll post his own update : ), but he basically spent the whole week in the lake and luckily, Little Sister Sam is turning out to not be the water dog Tate is so he had plenty of uninterrupted swimming and fishing.

He swims beautifully, as far and as long as ever.  He likes to stand in the water and watch for fish, and I noticed his back leg would kind of give out every once in awhile but he’s just adjust his position and resume watch.  He also comes in off the water a little earlier, rests  little more.  Who knows?  Maybe it’s his age.  He doesn’t have that puppy exuberance that he did even last summer when he was 3.

His last chemo was over a month ago and no more poop/barf problems and he’s guzzling water again like Evelyn guzzles whiskey.  He’ll start metronomics this week, cytoxan + Rimadyl.

We must be spoiling him a little too much, for the first time since I don’t even know when, he would not “Come” on command.  We had a little chat about it later (“I was calling you”) and it hasn’t happened again since.  I thought the correction may have come too late – I didn’t want to go in the water after him so I let it go – but he’s such a good smart boy, he knew he’d been wrong and wanted to make up!

An update on Sam for the Tripawds Puppy Advisory Board:  she’s doing wonderfully, many new experiences in the last month when we weren’t sure how she’d do but she did fine.  Learned her boundaries at the beach and at the cabin, learned how to behave on the boat, learned to stop rolling on dead fish else she’d get a bath, learned not to swim out too far.  Learned that when Tate goes under Dad’s desk, he’s done playing.  She definitely has a more outgoing and adventurous personality than Tate but she’s coming along so now Tate is more inclined to initiate play with her.  So overall, we’re very, very happy with her!  We’re so grateful your wisdom got us over the rough patch!

Sam at 5 months old

Early Again…Almost 3 Months

Well, the last month has been kind of up and down.  Tate was sick for a good part of it and there were so many things happening at once, we weren’t sure what it was.  First, the new puppy completely disrupted Tate’s kingdom.  Then, he had his third chemo treatment (CCNU capsules, which he’s never had a problem with) but the doctor added an antibiotic and gabapentin because Tate still had an open sore at his incision.  The very next day, he starting vomiting and had poop problems.  This went on at various levels of severity for over two weeks, with a fever of 105o thrown in for good measure, plus an assortment of new meds trying to get this controlled.  Poor little guy, and through it all he had this monkeybutt little sister biting his ears and his tail at every turn.

Finally, the vet said, “Take him off everything.”  So the poop problems subsided but in the meantime the weather turned blistering hot and he started barfing whenever he drank water.  Now he gets his water in a little bowl instead of a bucket, but he really is much less able to take the heat.  Used to be he’d rather be with us no matter what but now he stays inside with air conditioning more often.  So he’s back in reasonable health and the sore has finally healed.  (Whew!  What a relief that is!)  He had his fourth and final chemo treatment with only minor effects.  This is a normal we can live with.  We’ll see about putting him on a low-dose chemo next time we see the oncologist but certainly not if it makes him miserable or even uncomfortable.

Thanks to our own personal Tripawds Puppy Advisory Board (Ge’Lena, Shari and Charon), Little Sister Sam is now under control.  She cries at the back door to go out, she stays out of the kitchen, she sometimes drops the rock or whatever on the “out” command (even a robin one time), and most importantly, she lets up on the “be nice” command.  Then she licks his head and ears.  We don’t leave them alone together very often, and Tate’s getting plenty of time with us away from her.  So enormous gratitude to the T.P.A.B., your wisdom and willingness to share it saved the day!  Tripawds is the best!

Along the way, a number of friends have celebrated ampuversaries in the double digits and I realized, I’d been starting to count on Tate joining their ranks.  Lucky for me, I had a reminder from an Angel that every day is precious, things can change quickly.  And so my priorities are back in order…even if the garden is full of weeds.

A special note to all the Angels out there – you don’t even know the blessings your blogs spread around the Tripawds community and I’m sure to even more guests that we don’t even know about.  So an extra-special thank you to each and everyone one of you.

Tate’s Little Sister

We had talked about getting a little sister for Tate for a couple of years and never acted on it so we figured if we’re going to do it, we’d better do it now.  So meet Sam.

Little Sister Sam

I don’t know why they did this to me, this little brat doesn’t know how to act.  She gets in my face and plays with all my toys without asking.  She takes up everyone’s time with her constant peeing and pooping and learning how to sit and stay and come and go.  I’ve growled more in the last week than I have my whole entire life.

But she is kinda cute.

Two Months…almost

At the two-month mark (okay, so I’m two days early), it’s easier to count the things Tate can’t do than can.  And none of them are important, but here goes anyway:

He can’t jump up into the Jeep but he can jump into the truck.  He’s much more comfortable now with being lifted up than he was at first…when Dad does it.  I have to lift half at a time; he’s not crazy about that.

He can’t dodge Loretta anymore, he falls down and then he doesn’t want to play anymore.  But he keeps going back for more, runs up to her front door and waits for someone to bring her out.

He can’t jump up on Grandma’s bed.  He shouldn’t be up there anyway, but she makes me help him up so she can properly spoil him.

He used to jump up on us whenever we hugged but he doesn’t do that anymore.  He still comes running though, and pokes his nose in between us.  “No affection around here without me!”

I finally figured out why he keeps on stopping when we go on walks.  He wants me to get far ahead so he can run and catch up, running is easier than walking.  Now it’s a game, he waits until I turn around to look for him before he comes running.  And really, when he’s running, you can’t even tell he only has three legs.  I can’t tell you how many people have said, “Oh my gosh!  I didn’t even notice!”

So that’s the latest Tater-Tot report.  And you know, it seems to me that he’s more affectionate, he snuggles into me now and he didn’t do that much before.  He’s just more of all the best of Tate.  Maybe we just appreciate him more.  Doesn’t matter, we are enjoying the heck out of him, and he’s enjoying life to the fullest.

As always, thanks to everyone for being there for us.

Tripawds Party

We all went to the lake front yesterday and I had so much fun!  Met lots of new dogs.

Here's Isabelle and me meeting
Here's Trouper and me
Here's me wanting to meet Ginger but some little monkeybutt intruder is in the way
I never really got to meet Holly because she was running around so much! Here's her mom corralling her.
Here's Isabelle with some purple thing they called Barney. I bet I could tear that thing up in about 3 minutes flat!
Here's a bunch of us. That human in the middle is not the Unibomber, it's my mom. On the left is Gary, Trouper's dad. On the other side is Cynthia, Isabelle's mom, and then Ginger's peeps, Brian and Annie. In front is Holly and Zuzu's mom, Susan, but she didn't know my Dad was taking a picture.
All those dogs are fun, but I like the lake better!
Did someone say "treat"?

All in all, it was an outstanding day!  I hope we do it again sometime soon.

Rick and I had a great time, too and really enjoyed meeting all the dogs and their peeps.  Tripawds peeps really are the best!

Tate’s Physical Therapy


We just got back from the cabin and I had so much fun!  When I realized where we were going, I was so excited I started crying and pacing, and we were still like 20 miles away!  When we finally got there I ran straight down the hill to the lake but it was frozen!  I didn’t care; I broke right through the ice and had so much fun playing in the water.  Then I was with Dad by the pier and I walked out on the ice until Mom said, “too far” so I came back but then I fell through the ice near the rocks but no one would help me up and they just started walking away so I scrambled right up on the rocks and Mom and Dad told me I was such a good smart boy.

The next day was even better because it snowed!  I raced right down the hill again into the lake.

I ran all around playing.

I found a great big stick.

Then when I got tired, I just sat and looked at my lake.

Later on we went for a walk to the cemetery and I got to run around some more.

The next day was sunny and the snow started to melt.  Mom took me for a walk and we saw O’Leary and Alaska Mike and they said they couldn’t even tell..tell what, I don’t know but they both pet me.  Cody was barking on the porch so we left.  On the way home,  I was so hot in the sun, I was panting  and slowing down and Mom said she’d get me some water when we got back.  But I just ran down to the lake and drank all the water I wanted!  Silly Mom.

Because our little cove was frozen, Mom and Dad took me over to the boat landing and Dad said, “C’mon Tate, we want to see you swim.”  So I swam around a little bit but it was kind of boring, no sticks, no fish or anything.  So then we went back home.  They just wanted to see how I swim.  Duh!

I love our lake.  I wish we could live here all the time.

This was 6 weeks post-amp.  Up til this, he’d been “pretty good” but this was the first time he really was exuberant and running around.  I think he just needed a reason to get really excited about something.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Okay, strictly speaking not we’re not at one month until Friday.  But can’t wait any longer because we have reached the light at the end of the tunnel.

Tate has improved just about every single day the past week by leaps and bounds.   His appetite is more normal, he’s off the obsessive paw licking (although he still goes after the incision), and he’s stopped giving me those spooky stares.

The only really kinda “off” day was two days after chemo, he slept more than usual.  In his bed, in the bedroom, away from everyone which he never does.  But no other side effects.  (yaaayyy)

Here’s a partial list of his astonishing accomplishments (if you can indulge me for just one minute):

Day 21 – He scratches the door to be let back in!  Balancing on two legs!

Day 22 – Balances on his butt to scratch behind his ear with his remaining hind leg!

Also on Day 22 – Play bow with Loretta (but wisely decides this is not a good idea yet…smarty-pants.)

Day 23 – Tries to scratch behind the other ear but there’s no leg there to scratch with!  Figures out a new way to scratch that itch!  (Although he prefers Dad’s roughhousing scratches, so sometime he wiggles his semi-stump just to get Dad to scratch him…smarty-pants-plus.)

Also on Day 23 – Steals Dad’s T-shirt, “Look at me!  I’m such a bad boy!  Now you have to chase me!”

Day 24 – zzzzz…..

Day 25 – Walked all the way around the big block!

Day 26 – Visited Rowdy and didn’t avoid him!

Okay, I could go on but you get the picture.  Not to say he’s 100% but he’s himself again.  For a few weeks there, he was miserable because he felt crummy, wanted to play but couldn’t muster any energy and on top of that, he couldn’t figure out why he was always in trouble (so much of his treatment felt like punishment).  At least that’s Dad’s view of things and I think he’s right.

So when I look back, 2 months ago, we got the cancer speech, ending with “Oh, and if you don’t do anything, you will decide to euthanize him in a matter of weeks because we won’t be able to manage his pain.”  And I’m looking at my bouncy, waggy, shiny 4 year old dog, going “Wha-a-a-a?”

Frankly, I think that would be a shock to just about anyone.

But we have come out on the other side, not making too many missteps, not too many things we would have done differently.  I was reminded again that “This too shall pass” applies to the good seasons in life just like the bad.  Tate was always a refuge for us, a carefree respite from all the bad stuff life throws at you.  Hugs and pets throughout the financial distress, the fractured relationships, the grave diagnoses, the loss.  But then Tate had the grave diagnosis, so now the season is a little less carefree.  But we’re here, older and wiser.  Enjoying sweet hugs and pets all the more.

I can’t say where we would be without Tripawds.  Thanks for listening, and for sharing, and for letting me vent here so my two boys (husband + dog) wouldn’t have to bear the brunt.  : )

P.S.  Blood work is in, but I don’t know what it all means…doesn’t matter, it is what it is.  I’m just so happy that Tate’s happy.

P.P.S.  Colleen, where are you?

Three Week Ampuversary…Chemo Started Today

Tate has had some really good, “new normal” days in the past week, and some days of long naps.  His paw licking is rising to new heights!  His appetite is ravenous.  And everyone once in awhile, he will just sit bolt upright and stare at me.  For a long time.  What’s up with that?

We met with the oncologist today, and he is sticking with his 1-year prognosis.

They did not assess any lymph nodes because they couldn’t find any.  They couldn’t find any lymph nodes.  They were so focused on (bla bla bla and all that) they couldn’t find any lymph nodes.  At least he had the decency to struggle with remaining unemotional while he delivered this news, because it sounds to me like someone screwed up and just forgot that, gee, maybe the lymph node would be important.  So we don’t know if Tate’s cancer is really localized.

So we are without that bit of information.  Doesn’t matter, our Tate is in the hands of a Power higher than either the pathologist or the oncologist (which is not to say he’ll live a normal life span because, after all, God is not Santa Claus…just my own personal theological hot button.)

We are proceeding with chemo, CCNU, the same drug almost everyone else with histiocytic sarcoma gets.  Luckily for us, it is pill form (much cheaper than the IV form).  Blood work in one week to watch especially his white blood cell count and platelets, then again on the day of his next dose in three weeks.  One risk of CCNU is it damages the bone marrow and this would affect platelet production.  With insufficient platelets, his blood will have trouble clotting.  This damage is permanent.  Of course, there are other potential risks but this one sounded the most troublesome to me.

Interestingly, he put Tate back on Rimadyl because it has cancer-fighting properties.  I asked about the risk of liver damage with Rimadyl and he basically said I spend too much time on the internet.  Needless to say, he was not big on any supplements, either.

I’d like to consult a holistic vet but the $170 consultation fee put me off a bit, still reeling from the $400 for a second opinion (they said it might be blasto…in January?)  I’m on the nutrition/diet research trip and boy, there’s a lot of information out there.  Thanks to everyone that posted their pup’s regimen, very helpful.

So for now, until I unravel this, we’re sticking with Taste of the Wild adding a bit of olive oil and chopped-up green veggies, adding sardines to his list of snacks or mix-ins.  Cutting out the canned pumpkin and all the fruit.  Tate loves fruit, bananas, pears, watermelon especially but we don’t want to be feeding any cells that we should be starving.  On the other hand, this feels a little bit like using a pea-shooter against, I dunno…maybe King Kong.

Tate has Turned the Corner

On Day 16, I would say Tate was at about 40%.  On Day 17, I’d say 85%.  He popped up with the alarm, tail wagging, and resumed a lot of his routine behaviors.  Plunked himself outside the bathroom door while I brushed my teeth, went completely around the block with no rests (okay, it’s a short block but still a milestone), wanted to play with his ball, pushed open the door to the garage to run out when he heard my car coming home.  All while wagging his tail.  A blue-ribbon day.  A big change just that fast.

He tried walking over to Grandma’s but I made him come home, too far (0.6 mi).  But we drove over and they were so happy to see each other!  And Grandma did really, really good at holding back her tears.  She may not have much memory left but she still has her great big heart.  She knew better than to cry in front of Tate!  I was so proud of her.

Now that we are past the amp, I’m back to researching histiocytic sarcoma.  Now I know the stories of Harley, Barney in Texas, Ruthie, Tehya, Marley and Barney the collie.  Thank you so much for sharing!

Another Tripawd blog (Toby) led me to Peter Moore at UC-Davis.  It’s the best summary I could find, at:  http://www.histiocytosis.ucdavis.edu/  (I think this jump is in the Resources but it would not link for me.)  (BTW, it seems blogs show up in Google searches but not the forum?)

So the pathologist mentioned “curative” in reference to the amp, the surgeon said “Tate might enjoy a normal lifespan”, and the vet said “We may well have saved Tate’s life.”  All very promising, as it appears he has “localized histiocytic sarcoma” and not “disseminated histiocytic sarcoma.”  I am trying not to get my hopes up until we speak with the oncologist on Tuesday because I know how insidious those evil cancer cells can be.  But I’ve realized, I’m kind of counting on this.

Just a couple other oddball observations.  Tate’s started licking his bed or the carpet next to his paws.  I guess they do this.  The other thing is that Tate used to sneeze a lot when he got up in the morning, and he used to have a discharge from the corner of his eye a lot (eye boogers, to be descriptive about it.)  Neither of these things is happening anymore.  Very odd (to me).  Not that I miss them.

Stitches Are Out

Met with Tate’s surgeon today, took out the stitches and gave him the “all clear” and thinks he’s doing great. 

No more Tramadol, nothing else but Rimadyl and just for this week.  That’s the long story short.

She did ask about my concerns about the Tram, I explained everything as best as I could but in the end she thinks he was picking up on my anxiety.  I resemble, I mean, I resent that remark!  Doesn’t matter, when he woke up this morning I could tell he was better.  Woke me up to feed him, ate kibble without any yummies added in, wagged his tail for hugs and pets.  And he hasn’t wagged his tail for a long time!  When we got home, we walked all the way around the block.  He had to stop and rest quite a few times but he did great.  Now he’s sacked out.